Murray's legions claim Wimbledon's high ground
Tuesday 01 July 2008
"Come on Tim." The call went up and won some chuckles as dusk set in last night on what some now like to call Murray Mound, as the eponymous Andy pushed on through a fifth set.
It was hard to tell if it was irony or error but it was resonant of something significant about the grassy hillock. Even though 2,000 people packed on to it for a three-hour thriller, it's not Andy Murray's inheritance just yet. Daniel Sharp and his companion Melissa Woolford proved the point. As Murray found himself on the brink in the first set, just what, it had to be asked, did they think they were doing, marching away from the Mount?
"We might be back but we've a few courts to see," said Mr Sharp, apologetic smile playing across his face and half bottle of Lanson Rose in hand.
A prod beneath the surface revealed Murray to be the problem. "I preferred Henman's personality," Mr Sharp conceded. "He belonged to a time when tennis was a little more refined."
"Murray's more our generation," chimed in Ms Woolford, an architect. "Our parents might like Henman but he's more for us."
"I preferred Henman's personality," countered Mr Sharp, warming to his theme.
"You're just jealous of Murray," she replied.
The argument was clearly deteriorating fast and given that these companions had spent three hours queuing to get in, it seemed wise to test it no further. But Andrew Nicholson and his mother, Janet, were looking rather semi-detached, too, gazing across from the Mount to Court 18 as Murray toiled on the screen behind them.
"I'm not that interested in him because I'm English," Mr Nicholson declared, munching on a roll. He was struggling to forgive Murray for those six short, careless words he has tried so hard to take back: "Whoever England are playing. Ha, ha." (That's what Murray said when asked, a few years back, who he supported for the 2006 World Cup.)
But of course, there's nothing like some tension to stop the theorising. As Murray perched on the horns of an exit at two sets down, polite ripples evolved into modest applause. Among them was David Grisham, locked into the third set's nerve-shredding 10th game when he expertly declared: "Still a few challenges left." The HawkEye machine would save Murray, he believed. "Challenge!" implored his wife, Judy, clinging to her husband's theory, even as he expounded it.
Others preferred more conventional logic. "Finish it before I miss my train," squealed Juliet Woolmer.
The sun began sinking in the orange London sky, Murray moved towards a denouement befitting any of Henman's and suddenly no one was leaving. The hill, it seems, can pass on from Henman when those splendidly British qualities of tension, agony and hope are offered in abundance and equal measure.
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