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Why Andy Murray is the one

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Tim Franks | 09:52 UK time, Monday, 27 June 2011

At the pinnacle of sport, spectators can become punch-drunk on impossibility.

Take the fabulously mis-named "serve". Some six foot five inch machine is winding up to hurl a missile at twice the national speed limit several yards beyond his opponent's arm-span. The receiver doesn't just manage to fling himself, goalie style, in the right direction. He gets his racquet to it. And somehow manages to block the ball back. He then scrambles up the cliff face so that he can continue to rally on something like level ground.

So much, so stupefying.

What we should be grateful for, is that Andy Murray gives you a sense of the effort -the unfair, unending amount of effort.

Photo: Reuters

Andy Murray faces Richard Gasquet in the fourth round on Monday. Photo: Reuters

I wish I could tell you that I've observed this from the afternoons I've spent lounging on centre court, chugging Pimms and giggling with the celebs. It's not quite like that. But I have had the chance to spend hours at the practice courts, watching, close-up, the gods at play.

Number three seed, Roger Federer, is always couth, kempt and coiffed. He moves on casters. His default air is of somnolent regality.

Number one seed, Rafa Nadal, has the insouciance and cool of a Brazilian drinks waiter. If he needs to pick up a tennis ball from the ground, he doesn't do what everyone else does, and slap his racket on top of the ball so that it starts to bounce. No: he performs a sort of footballing triple salko, and juggles the ball upwards from foot to thigh to shoulder to racquet.

Number two seed, Novak Djokovic - his atypical Saturday tantrum aside - just exudes irrepressible health; he is a computer graphic-generated Australian lifeguard.
And what of number four seed, Andy Murray? He hauls his feet around, as if his shins have just been beaten with a claw hammer. His hair is a magnificently ill-tamed mess - a wild and angry copse next to the other players' manicured lawns.

They carry their demeanour on court. The other top seeds are polite sadists. When they are ahead they turn the screw. Their opponent winces and raises his arm. The umpire counts to three. The bout is over.

Andy Murray is a reluctant masochist. There are times when he appears able to find his alter ego and close a match out. But it doesn't seem to come as easily to him, this business of standing in the middle of the baseline and dictating. He seems to be more at home in Kinshasa, in 1974: Muhammad Ali sucking up George Foreman's murderous slugs, before at last punching back. Boshed into an impossible angle, yards off court, galloping at full pelt - that's when Murray will hit the unfeasible passing shot.

Sport - at its peak - reaches unknowable levels. Andy Murray's gift is to remind us how staggeringly difficult it can be.


  • Comment number 1.


  • Comment number 2.

    So your telling us that playing at the top level (in any sport) is difficult and that each of the top four seeds has a different personality?

  • Comment number 3.

    this was terrible

  • Comment number 4.

    A nice bit of word-play. But what are you really getting at? That Murray has to try harder because he simply isn't as good as the top 3?!

  • Comment number 5.

    Tim, this still sounds like foreign news. Also, can you and your editors explain how the article justifies the headline.

    Can I suggest that you get some tickets for the matches rather than hanging around where the action ain't.

  • Comment number 6.

    Always dangerous to write a blog about Murray, bad feedback guaranteed (for no obvious reason). Great writing.

  • Comment number 7.

    Leave him alone. There is nothing wrong with this blog. It gives us a rare insight into the players practice court manner and is correct when it says we should be thankful for Andy Murray and some of the amazing tennis he plays, a player who is much ridiculed by public and press alike.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    Pathetic and thats mild!
    That brat Djokovic should be made to sweep the courts and sow seed to the famous courts of wimbledon.

  • Comment number 10.

    So Federer is cool, calm and collected.
    Djokovic looks healthy.
    Nadal has the carefree attitude of a Brazilian drinks waiter.
    Murray drags his feet and has messy hair.

    Thanks for the amazing insight - a 10 year old could have summised better.

  • Comment number 11.

    At 11:48 27th Jun 2011, jack leroy halford wrote:

    Pathetic and thats mild!
    That brat Djokovic should be made to sweep the courts and sow seed to the famous courts of wimbledon.

    GO face Djoker on a tennis court, he'd teach you a proper good lesson, if thats your opinion of him then your not fit to watch wimbledon. I've said before that it must suck to be Murray. To know that in any other era he would have won a couple of Slams. But against this lot his chances are slim. Still my heart says he'll win one day and it'll be some of the best tennis ever played when he does, because lets face it it'll have to be.

  • Comment number 12.

    I'm sorry, don't like to criticise, but what a woeful piece of writing. It's clearly written by someone with little to say about tennis and in the end does exactly that: says nothing.

    We're supposed to garner some great insight into the four best players in the world because you spent a few hours watching them practice? Please tell me this is a joke.

  • Comment number 13.

    Way too wordy. I get the points you make, but a bit pretentious.

  • Comment number 14.

    This is the first time I've signed in for years, but it was worth it to mention just how poor this article is. The verbiage used has meant that the content is over-ellaborated and has no substance!

  • Comment number 15.

    I thought it was hilarious!
    I think this guy's only mistake was that he forgot to say how 'staggeringly difficult' it can be for Andy Murray to win consistently...yet the other three just above him seem to collect big 'W's' like trading-cards.

  • Comment number 16.

    Good article Tim, I enjoyed it... A nice bit of prose giving good and genuine insight into the mentalities of world class sportsmen. Simple but effective... Bravo!

    Come on Andy! Good luck! Odds are stacked against you as Tim and Sparky222 points out, but if he ever does win a slam he will deservedly go down as an all time 'British' sporting legend... Never mind if he actually won Wimbledon!!

  • Comment number 17.

    Number three seed, Roger Federer, is always couth, kempt and coiffed. He moves on casters. His default air is of somnolent regality.

    Number one seed, Rafa Nadal, has the insouciance and cool of a Brazilian drinks waiter.


    Errr... what?

    I've run it through Google Translate, and it didn't know the answer either.

    Agree with the other comments - what exactly is this article saying? Murray makes tennis look difficult so we should thank him for that?

  • Comment number 18.

    It's not the pointless observations of this blog that's annoying, nor the over use of flamboyant vocabulary which gets everyone browsing Wiki Dictionary.

    It's this assumption that Murray (as great a tennis player as he is) is pitched from a media perpective as a man who is allowed to drink from the top table of current tennis greats. He has not won a slam and until he does, mentioning him in the same breath as Federer, Nadal and Djokovic is disrespectful not only to them, but the knowledgeable British public.

    I hope like all tennis fans that Murray goes on to win a grand slam title and then can deserve all the hype and plaudits for his efforts on the court. Until that happens, this non-sensical whimsy is irritating, ill-advised and over hyped media trash.

    Please stop it.

  • Comment number 19.

    i was expecting you to write about how we should appreciate murray 'only' being fourth in the world instead of acting as if he's a failure for not dominating in the greatest era of tennis. the point about murray being a masochist while the others are sadists is nonsense in my opinion.

    all four of them breeze past opponents at times and also have difficult matches. maybe murray has more tough ones simply because he isn't quite as good as the other three at the moment. also, the vocab makes you look as if you're trying too hard... the ridiculous words aren't really necessary.

  • Comment number 20.

    Right ok, so let's see if I've got this:

    Roger - Chilled
    Nadal - keepy-ups
    Djokovic - Australian (?)
    Murray - hair cut

  • Comment number 21.

    Damn, he won again!!

    There are four mens players who are streets ahead of the rest. Murray is 4th by a distance to the other three.

    He'll lose in the semi final, which matches his ranking, so no insult in that....a nice pay cheque and next weekend off.

    Whole thing a waste of time up until then.

  • Comment number 22.

    Seems more reflective of the writer's stereotypical disposition than the actual nature of the players themselves. Nadal a Spanish waiter? Murray, one of the quickest players across the court, dragging his feet around after being attacked by a claw hammer?

    Aren't Spanish waiters meant to be surly? Aren't Australian coast guards supposed to be blond? Isn't that the normal stereotype?

    Can too better. Too much sun I think;)

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    Andy Murray obviously took offence to this blog, and put a hat on.

  • Comment number 25.

    Looks like something written simply because you had to come up with a blog, and had a deadline to meet.
    Meaningless drivel, and tells us nothing we didn't already know - including that Murray is not quite at the same level as the very best players.
    Fortunately the blog is only electronic, because I would hate to think of trees beng killed for this drivel. Ho Hum.


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