'Murraymania' is preventing Wimbledon champion Andy Murray from reaching his true potential as his own man

Phil Davison gives a Scottish analysis of the world number three in the wake of his early US Open exit in the hope it gives him the kick he needs if he is to reach the top of the game

I think I'm as Scottish as it gets, and I've been a tennis fanatic all my life, often a sportswriter during my journalistic career. So why is it that I'd walk across the Kalahari desert, in a fur coat if necessary, to watch Roger Federer play. And yet I wouldn't dream of sleeping in a tent outside Wimbledon to watch my compatriot Andy Murray.

Harsh, you may say. Well maybe it's time somebody got harsh with Andy. Ivan Lendl toughened him up, shots and tactics-wise -- and the Wimbledon and Olympic titles are proof of that -- but Andy needs a lot more than help on the court. He's our boy, our Next Great Hope, Scottish north of the border and British down south. When he plays, we fly the flag, the Saltire or the Union Jack, the latter being the one his and my family fought under during two world wars.

Yet, in the blinkered nationalism of Murraymania, no TV commentators, and few sportswriters, dare say that Andy's antics have all the hallmarks of a spoilt brat, a mummy's boy -- "Mummy, I scraped my knee, kiss it better," as some kids at my old Scottish school used to say.

So far none of the UK media have felt the strength to go against the grain and criticize the Next Great Hope. If they don't, I can assure you he'll get worse.  Like most sportsmen, Andy will take on board, media-wise, all that he reads, or all that's he's told by his "team." Human nature. So if "Team Murray" shields him from the truth, he is unlikely to get to where he is capable of being.

This is not to belittle Andy's mum Judy, who has helped drive him to where he is and to where he might well be -- Number One in the world and multiple Grand Slam champion.  As a Scot, nothing would give me greater pleasure if he gets his head right and reaches those heights.

And to be honest,  Andy's performance, shot-wise, against Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open last Thursday was not that bad. The "Swiss Shadow" (always in the shadow of Federer) happened to hit his A-game. But it wasn't about tennis at Flushing Meadows that day. It was about how a Scottish lad could be in New York City and not only bore but alienate NYC tennis fans, not by his tennis but by his behaviour. 

Those of us Scots who have visited NYC may have screamed many times in the streets but we were not representing anyone other than ourselves. Nor were we being paid megabucks at the time. Andy's behaviour against Wawrinka was everything we don't want to see in tennis. Wawrinka hit a genius winner and Murray looked as though he was in a horror movie and must claw off his own face. I doubt whether Andy would have done that against the greats whom he may well never emulate -- Federer, Nadal or Djokovic. Perhaps he felt his hysterics might intimidate the lower-ranked Wawrinka, also by changing from a white to red shirt, similar to Wawrinka's, for the final game (one can be fairly sure that was Ivan Lendl's last-ditch psychological ploy, not Murray's.) And Andy's Hitchcockesque scream after losing a set served only to do three things. 1. It perturbed even the noise-loving folks of New York City 2. It revealed that he needs more help with his head than with  his shots or tactics and 3. It surely turned many British parents off buying their kids a tennis racquet.   To be dubbed "Smashin' Andy" would probably have pleased Andy in his Dunblane days. But to get it as a multi-millionaire by smashing two racquets?

Murray became the first Briton to win the men's Wimbledon singles title since Fred Perry's 1936 triumph Murray became the first Briton to win the men's Wimbledon singles title since Fred Perry's 1936 triumph  

 

After the Olympics and his Wimbledon victory, our media raved about the "Murray Factor -- kids are swarming to tennis courts." Not from what I've seen. And they won't, unless Andy follows the example of players like Federer, who indeed smashed racquets when he was a teenager but developed into not only the most graceful and successful player of all time (so far) but the nicest and most diplomatic.

Andy, you will never be a Federer but then no-one else will. Showing your opponents that you're emotionally still a bit of a baby merely serves to encourage them. Be a man. Your own man. You're a tennis player, not a racing driver. You don't need "Team Murray," or Sean Connery, or Sir Alex or any of the other hangers-on. Go on to beat the other sluggers, Rafa and Novak, and surely all of Scotland and the U.K. will be behind you.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project