Robin Scott-Elliot: Disadvantage Murray in the mixed-up doubles of the post-match interview
Australian Open, Eurosport
Monday 23 January 2012
The book of memorable post-match interview questions is bigger than you might expect, although its length is largely down to an entry from Garth Crooks that contains more, and certainly weightier, words than Martin Luther's 95 theses as it rambles around the football world, pauses to rest its ruminative feet on the leather chaise longue that Garth carries everywhere with him, before heading authoritatively for the distant question mark that signals its conclusion, via a sun-dappled copse of subclauses and a meandering stream of suggestive pauses.
On Saturday morning, or night, depending on whether you were watching this side up or down in Melbourne, the post-match genre was taken to new heights by a Channel 7 interviewer. His name, I think, was Hamish McLachlan; on the channel's website the male presenters all resemble a love interest in Home And Away with shiny teeth and a refined ruggedness that ticks Australian boxes:– "Hey, I'd hug a koala but I also know how to skin it and cook it over a fire lit by rubbing by my muscular thighs on a dry piece of brushwood."
McLachlan, if it was him, gave a masterful performance after striding on court to talk to Andy Murray in the immediate aftermath of the Scot's equally entertaining victory over Michael Llodra. More often than not attempts to extract anything interesting out of an athlete while they are dripping sweat on the camera come to nothing, the odd adrenalin-inspired tear or expletive aside – thank you for ever, Micah Richards – but then not many are asked to name their favourite film, TV series and then to decide which of the Middleton sisters looked better during the royal wedding. There you have it, the post-match question of questions: "Andy, Pippa or Kate?"
Ignoring what the question might say about the horribleness of a global, modern-day media life-drainingly obsessed with celebrity, it was not, it's fair to say, one Murray was expecting. He knocked it away like a mishit back hand, mumbling something as the director cut to a shot of his girlfriend, Kim Sears, up in the stands, but that apart he took the interview in good spirits.
They appear to like Murray Down Under, a standing he can only have strengthened by responding to McLachlan's enquiry as to how he was going to spend the remainder of the evening. "Get hammered," decided Murray straight-faced, to roars of delight. Fortunately Ivan Lendl, who has aged to resemble an austere, eastern European version of Angus Fraser, had already departed.
Sitting in the Eurosport studio, Virginia Wade, just about the only Briton who is entitled to talk down to Murray, having a major title to her name, called his performance (in the match, not the interview) "beautifully efficient". Murray is consistently entertaining to watch, winning or losing, smiling or moaning. That's the package and in Australia, and the US for that matter, they seem happy to accept him for what he is and not look to impose some sort of sporting moral code on him.
The Australian Open is a rare treat for Eurosport, which gets to enjoy some warmth and sunshine on a channel that otherwise operates as a lifeline for exiled Nordic skiers or any bobble-hatted practitioner of sports where you ski uphill a bit then try to shoot something. A pastime which the Middleton sisters no doubt are required to spend much of their time indulging in, now they are royalty.
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