Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mouth of the Murray


Semi-final winning roar from Andy Murray. Mark Baker (AP)



It's a far, er, cry from the days of Tim Henman, a man whose 'air pump' looked like it was borrowed from a penny farthing bicycle. Andy Murray at least bellows like a top ten player. I'm writing this now in case the crane from Dunblane is yesterday's news tomorrow.

I've watched The Australian Open under some sufference. The whole thing is far too blue. Tennis courts should be green or terra cotta. A blue court looks like it should be filled with water, and not in a pleasant way. There are also ads - gasp! 

There have been some entertaining moments, not least of all when Henri Leconte was in the commentary box. Think soccer dad on steroids. The magnificent battle between Justine Henin and Serena Williams was worth the price of having the remote constantly to hand. The Bill was on the other side for some of it and that certainly helped. 

Wimbledon fortnight used to be one of the highlights of my year. About once every three years, I'd get tickets in the public ballot or my friend Carole would. If we didn't get lucky we'd queue and be dispensed words of encouragement by kindly old gentlemen in Panama hats and ties bearing the suffragette colours of purple and green. It was delightful and almost never rained. 

When Henman was dithering his way to inevitable quarter-final defeat, the slope outside Centre Court was named Henman Hill.  Here you could watch him on a giant screen painfully rerunnning his Sisyphian destiny, year in, year out.  In the post-Henman era it has been redubbed Murray Mound. 

If Murray wins the Australian Open today, he will be the first British man to win a Grand Slam title since Fred Perry won both Wimbledon and the US Open in 1936. An eight-time slam winner, Perry was also the first man to win all four Grand Slam titles. The little slope should really have been called Perry Peak.  The Perry legacy is a lot to live up to but there could be a lucrative sportswear future in it.

Britain could do with the psychological boost of being good at something for a change and it would be great if Dunblane could be famous for something other than the horrific massacre of sixteen children and a teacher at the school where Murray was a pupil in 1996. 

If Murray's game is as big as his gob, he's in with a chance. I hope so. I've seen far too many boring finals featuring the robotic Federer who plays like he was manufactured by Tissot.  A Murray win would be grounds for renaming Southfields tube station, (where one exits for Wimbledon), Murrayfield South, surely.