Tim Walker: Game, set and cash... Murray's minted

Tales From The Watercooler

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The Independent Online

If, like me, you're a fairweather tennis fan, there's at least half a chance you watched your first US Open final this week. Perhaps then, you were as surprised as I was: not by Andy Murray's victory, nor by the unfamiliar playing surface, nor by the lateness of the hour at Flushing Meadows – we have lights and a roof at Wimbledon now, too. No, what shocked me was the unabashed presence of cold, hard cash.

First, following the final point, came the sight of Murray wandering about in his socks, searching for the £1,250 Rado watch that he had to wear while lifting the trophy, presumably so as to fulfil the terms of his supposed seven-figure sponsorship deal. Next came commentator Mary Carillo, who told the crowd, and an embarrassed-seeming Novak Djokovic, that as runner-up he'd "finished first in the Emirate airline US Open series bonus challenge," and would have $500,000 of bonus money added to his winnings.

After informing the triumphant Murray that there'd be "bagpipes blowing all over Scotland" in celebration, Carillo introduced Stephen Cannon, the President and CEO of Mercedes Benz, "to hand over your prize money cheque of $1.9m." Can you imagine Sue Barker being so vulgar as to discuss money?

The following day, some British papers led with publicist Max Clifford's plucked-from-the-air assertion that Murray could now earn £100m. The Scot's Olympic victory came without a cash prize, but it certainly won't have harmed his chances of further sponsorship. Tennis players want to win, but they're in it for the money, too.

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