When he walks out in Melbourne play Go Soeda on Tuesday will probably get a decent cheer. Tennis crowds, even Australian ones, are fairly respectable and will appreciate the fact that Murray has an Olympic gold and a Wimbledon title currently in his locker.
It is, however, fair to say that it won’t be in the same league as the deafening reception he’ll get when he walks out at Wimbledon in June. That’s because us Brits have fallen for the dour Scotsman and adopted him as a hero and symbol of everything that makes Britain great. I’d rather not be so fickle, so I’ll continue on the path of bagging Murray at any given moment.
Route to be a champion
Before the Olympics, Murray was just another in a long line of plucky (aka rubbish) British tennis players. He’d mainly look good against the pond weed but look out of his depth against the best players. As John McEnroe pointed out to his predecessor as British number 1, Tim Henman, the millions in prize money he’s won will keep him comfortable and stop him ever winning anything of importance.
Then the Olympics. Caught up in a surge of national pride, with millions cheering on anyone wearing the Union Flag kit, Murray finally won a final that mattered, at Wimbledon, and lifted a weight from his shoulders along with a gold medal. The nation started to love him. Instead of a brooding, miserable millionaire, he was that lovely young man from Scotland.
On to Wimbledon, where he broke ‘The Curse of Fred Perry’, to bring the title ‘home’ after 77 years. He screamed, he laughed, he cried and he proved to the public he was human, so every definitely loves him now.
In fact, we love him so much, that he was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year by the public. Now, to outsiders, you might imagine that having a personality was an important trait to win this award, but, alas, it’s not. You just need to be good at sport.
So, back to Melbourne on Tuesday. Murray is fighting fit after back surgery, by all accounts is feeling good and has been serving at 133mph (214kph) in exhibition games. John McEnroe (him again) reckons that Murray can “go the distance” if he’s put enough work in at his training camp in Miami. With an easy early draw, a respectful crowd, trophies in the cabinet and the nation behind him, what could possibly go wrong?
Well, three things could go wrong really; Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer. Between these three, they’ve won the Australian Open for the last eight years and nine of the last ten. And to waltz off into the sunset with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup, Murray is likely to have to beat 6th seed Federer in the Quarter Final, number 1 seed Nadal in the Semis and reigning champion and 2nd seed Djokovic in the Final. Good luck with that.
The current British obsession with Andy Murray is as tedious as it is pointless. I can’t take away two Grand Slams and an Olympic gold, comfortably placing him as the best Brit for a long, long time, but does anyone really see him beating these three players, back to back, to win in Australia? Nope, me neither.
Until he can do that and start to dominate the world game, he’ll always be the plucky Brit for me. Close but no cigar. Always the bridesmaid. You get the picture. To be fair, if he does beat the three of them, I might have to start changing my opinion of Murray. But I’m pretty certain I can continue my curmudgeonly outlook on Murray over the next few weeks.