Murray thrills crowds in defiant five-setter against former finalist

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Andrew Murray said he was going to lose - and he was right. But no one thought it would happen like this. Exhausted and hobbling, the 18-year-old from Dunblane yesterday finally succumbed to his Argentinian opponent, David Nalbandian, after three and a half hours and five enthralling sets of heart-stopping tennis.

Andrew Murray said he was going to lose - and he was right. But no one thought it would happen like this. Exhausted and hobbling, the 18-year-old from Dunblane yesterday finally succumbed to his Argentinian opponent, David Nalbandian, after three and a half hours and five enthralling sets of heart-stopping tennis.

The great new hope of British sport put fans on Centre Court - and on the newly-christened Mount Murray - through the wringer. In his home town, the main streets were almost deserted as the close-knit community shared in the trials and tribulations of the teenager, fast becoming one of their most famous sons.

Murray, who went into Wimbledon ranked 317th in the world, raced to a two-set lead against an opponent nearly 300 places above him. Murray won the first set on a tie-break before demolishing Nalbandian 6-1 in the second.

The Argentinian, who reached the Wimbledon final in 2002, looked beaten. Twice he smashed his racket to the ground at the prospect of losing to teenager in only his seventh professional match. But in the third set it was Murray's turn to fall apart. Nalbandian took the set 6-0 as the young Scot appeared to give up.

As the fourth set started, his mother, Judy, and father, Willie, watching in the stands, must have been wondering whether their son would have the stamina to hold on. Never before in his career had he played a match which lasted more than three sets. His ankle was also heavily strapped from an earlier injury.

Murray went a break up and was leading 4-2, but Nalbandian hit back, taking four games in succession to take the match into a fifth and final set.

Before the final set, Murray received treatment on court for a muscle injury in his buttocks as his lack of stamina began to show. He lost the final set 6-1.

With millions watching live television coverage, it was standing-room only in the public bar of the Dunblane Hotel yesterday. The champagne was on ice, with cheap beer and free strawberries and cream for the crowd that gathered to watch the match live on the pub's large television screen.

Four hours of nail-biting, chain-smoking tension took their toll on many as their voices began to grow hoarse from shouting and cheering every point Murray took from his older and more experienced opponent.

"Andy has surpassed everyone's wildest expectations," said landlord Tom McLean. "He has done fantastically well and played a great game. Almost everybody in the town was watching this game. Everybody is very proud of him. His career is just starting and we are all confident that he can go all the way."

Murray is now equal odds with Tim Henman (40/1) to win Wimbledon next year and 7/1 to win the tournament by 2010. He is also 16/1 to be the BBC TV Sports Personality of the Year.

William Hill said it had taken the biggest single gamble ever seen on a Scottish sportsman, as punters bet on the teenage sensation to take this year's title. A spokesman said last night: "A patriotic plunge saw Murray's odds tumbled from 500/1 at the start of the tournament to as short as 16/1 at one stage."

Comments