The Last Word: If Murray wins today, it will be in spite of British tennis

If you are anywhere near a television or radio tuned into the BBC this morning, expect to hear the phrase "75 years of hurt". Also anticipate, in no particular order, mentions of Fred Perry, Virginia Wade and, yes, because they must, Tim Henman. But more than anything, get ready for "Andy's doing it for Britain". Over and over.

But then look at the screen and analyse the tennis player. No, not the dark-haired, sleek, athletic one, but the ginger-haired, gangly one with the dodgy knee. Peer closer still into his wonderfully belligerent expression and you may just recognise that Andy is doing it for Andy. And doesn't care much for all that "Britain's behind you" claptrap.

In fact, Murray will actually try to blot out the rabid support of so many of his countryfolk when he steps out to face Novak Djokovic in the final of the Australian Open. "This is more of a personal dream," says Murray. "The historical thing is not something I've thought about much. You can't go in thinking, 'No one's won for 70-odd years'."

Well, you could if you were obsessed with ending your country's extraordinary barren run in the male Grand Slams. Indeed, you might even feel obliged to if your country had given you anything and everything you needed in the pursuit of the "dream" that was both yours and theirs. But as far as Murray is concerned, his country did very little to get him where he happens to be today. This wouldn't be a success for British tennis, but rather a success for a tennis player who happens to be British. There is a very big and depressing difference.

True, the Lawn Tennis Association could point to the reported £800,000 they paid Brad Gilbert essentially to coach the up-and-coming Murray five years ago. But it says so much about that most ridiculed of sporting bodies that they were rightly damned for this "investment". This money should have been spent on the developing, not on the already developed. They concentrated on the sizzle not the sausage.

Ironically, Murray was living, seething proof of the inability to bring on young talent. So miserable was the experience of his elder brotherJamie's seven months at an LTA academy in Cambridge, and such was Andy's disillusionment with a broken system, that the decision was made for the 15-year-old to spend two years at a supposedly equivalent academy in Barcelona. The strides he made in Spain were so profound it would probably be more appropriate that any glory on the Rod Laver Arena today be met with a blast of La Marcha Real than God Save The Queen.

But no, the Union Flag would be unfurled and even if HRH did resist extending her congratulations to England's favourite Scot, you can bet your bottom Caledonian fiver that David Cameron would dispatch one of those sickening "personal messages" that are, in fact, as impersonal as imaginable. And so the great period of predicting would begin. Murray's "historic" win (wouldn't it only qualify as "historic" if no Briton had achieved it before?) would inspire all these children to take up the game and the LTA would croon about a rich future. They have seen the future and the future is Daz white. Here comes the Barley Army.

Of course, the reality will be somewhat different. For starters, there are only 10,000 park courts in the United Kingdom, while five years ago there were estimated to be 33,000. The fault for that must lie squarely with the local councils, who decidedto use the space for other recreationalactivities or, in some unforgivable cases, for new car parks. But where were the LTA when this was happening? They should have been screaming it from their ivy-clad rooftops, publicising this outrage. With their inexhaustible Wimbledon profits they certainly have the wherewithal to make it a cause célèbre. After all, they hired Max Clifford a few years back to do a PR job on the game's "middle-class image".

This is the LTA's misguided obsession. They fear the reason for the paucity of British talent is the "exclusive" perception of British tennis. Oh, really? Go and explain that to British golf. When it comes to privilege, the golf clubs of this green, unpleasant land still make the tennis clubs resemble working-men's halls. So how come UK golf is currently going through something of a – dare we use the term – "golden age", with six players in the world's top 12?

There is an easy answer to that question. It is because the coaching expertise existed here to transform the explosion of interest raised by the likes of Nick Faldo, Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam into a broad base of golfing excellence. The home golfing unions have been able to seek out and identify the talent, and so what we have is a pedigree which is alreadyshowing itself to be self-perpetuating.Meanwhile, the plus-foured club-houses remain as stuffy as ever.

And what has British tennis got to show for its recent efforts? Granted,unlike golf they haven't had the major trophies to display. But they did have Tim Henman. His rise to prominence in the mid-1990s and his longevity thereafter means British tennis has boasted a male at the top end of the game for 15 years. Naturally, it had no right to boast, because Henman,like Murray, like Greg Rusedski, did not come through the system. But boast it still could. The role models were there.

So where are the generation of wannabe Tims, wannabe Gregs even? The example of golf, and the likes of Paul Casey, Luke Donald and Ian Poulter, who emerged more than a half-decade ago, saying they were inspired by Faldo and Co, emphasises they should have arrived by now. They haven't. The LTA have wasted the opportunity. Instead, there's just Murray, with not one other Briton in the men's top 200 to keep him company. Absurd. If not completely unfair on the poor dolt who has to shoulder the entire burden of hope and expectancy.

So it would be forgivable for Murray to think today of "doing it for his country" and mutter, "Yeah, right". He is a product of his and his family'sambitions; nothing else. That shouldn't mean that we as patriots should resist greeting his victory with anything less than sporting euphoria. But we must be careful to restrict our admiration to him and not British tennis. The latter will have had little, if anything, to do with any breakthrough. Either before, during or, it must be feared, after.

Agree or disagree? Email or leave a comment below

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?