Pay attention and give respect to the man from nowhere
23:02 GMT, 6 July 2012
Do you know the most wonderful thing
about Andy Murray He’s Scottish. Now a lot of people don’t agree with
that. They think Murray’s monotone brogue, his roots, his loyalties, are
absolutely the worst of him.
They think it makes him dour and
chippy and they are convinced by this myth that he hates the English.
They drink it all in and then they hate him back, because they genuinely believe he is as small-minded and petty as they are.
Relief: Andy Murray points to the sky after winning the match
Battle: The fourth set was an epic tussle
And they do not understand, and never will understand, that it is precisely Murray’s otherness, his uniqueness, his outsider status, that has taken him to where he will be on Sunday: the men’s singles final at Wimbledon.
If he was typical, if he was the standard issue British tennis player, he would not be where a fellow national has not stood since 1938.
Bunny Austin was the name. He was a bit of a rebel, too — he played in shorts rather than in clothes better suited to the set of Brideshead Revisited.
Even so, that cognomen is a bit of a giveaway. Bunny. There are not too many get called Bunny in Murray’s part of the world.
Applause: Murray laps up the adulation of the fans
Tough luck: Murray and Jo-Wilfried Songa in conversation after the match
Austin was a Cambridge man and a public
schoolboy. He would have had a lot in common with many of the
ineffectual characters that followed him, to little purpose, at
Wimbledon; less with the strangely driven Murray brothers from Dunblane.
In picturing how Murray got to Centre Court on Sunday, one first has to
imagine the two of them, Jamie and Andy, as proteges on the junior
‘Every competition seemed to take place about six hours from where we
lived,’ Andy once told me. ‘We were outsiders all the time, so we became
our own little team.
‘There was nothing in Scotland. No tournaments and no players. That is
very unusual in tennis, to have someone come through from a country
without pedigree. I had Tim Henman to look up to and that definitely
helped, but nobody with my background.
Crucial: Andy Murray celebrates winning a vital game
Good start: Murray got off to a fine opening
ROGER FEDERER v ANDY MURRAY
7 Head-to-head 8
30 Age 25
Basel, Switzerland Dunblane, Scotland
6'1″ Height 6'3″
187lbs (85 kg) Weight 185lbs (84 kg)
1998 Turned Pro 2005
39/6 This year Won/Lost 26/9
846/192 Career Won/Lost 349/116
74 Career Titles 22
46m Career Prize Money 13.3m
Now do you understand Now do you get why Murray’s Scottish roots are so
important They made him the man he is. They made him this weird little
‘Somebody from nowhere’ was how the playwright Joe Orton described
himself, becoming the toast of West End theatre from his origins in a
Leicester council house.
That is Murray, too. Can you conceive how hard it is to become one of
the world’s great tennis players, starting in Dunblane Can you imagine
what the summer season must have been like, the travelling, the sense
It is a miracle, a bloody miracle, that of all the British tennis
players to try and fail to reach the final at Wimbledon, the one that
should then do it originates from the heart of Scotland.
To put Murray’s achievement into further perspective, do you know what
happened to the last player to lose to a British opponent in a men’s
singles semi-final at Wimbledon He died in the Battle of Stalingrad on
December 3, 1942.
Henner Henkel was his name and, four years after losing to Austin, he was killed while fighting for the German Sixth Army.
This is ancient history Murray is rewriting here, in sporting terms at
least. We are so used to the now, to the immediacy of modern sport, the
advances in technology and training, that we can barely comprehend an
achievement that has stood since a time when the average house price in
Britain was 545.
Chamberlain met Hitler in 1938. Errol Flynn played Robin Hood. Len
Hutton made 364 against Australia. And Bunny Austin lost in straight
sets in the final to Don Budge. Who knew that would be as good as it got
for 74 years; and what calibre of man it would require to break the
In other times, a player of Murray’s ability would already have trod
this path. He is good enough, he has the game, he has the shots, he has
the determination, he has the stamina. He also has three of the greatest
players in history in a blocking formation before him: Roger Federer,
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
The mighty Federer now stands in his way tomorrow.
New balls please: Tsonga was hit in a delicate area by a Murray shot
Rally: Murray and Tsonga in action
Federer did for Djokovic and Nadal exited at an earlier stage, but do
not be fooled. The cynics who claim Murray has had it easy at Wimbledon
so far greatly underestimate the strength in depth of the men’s tour.
Not one opponent has been a pushover and if Murray has made his progress
appear comparatively straightforward that is not to his detriment.
If Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was tamed yesterday, kudos to Murray. He dropped
two points on his service game in the entire second set. Tsonga did not
hold one service game to love.
Against a player whose serve on grass was claimed to be his strength,
Murray’s defence was quite brilliant. If he suffered a third set wobble,
it merely confirmed the danger he faced.
History: Tsonga beat this year's finalist Roger Federer in a thriller last time around
Tumble: Murray reacts to a fall during the match
Of course, Murray would rather have played Tsonga than Nadal, but having
had the misfortune to share his time with men of such exceptional
ability, is it not about time that he caught a break
‘I’m so happy to be there,’ Murray told the BBC after the match,
without so much as breaking into a smile at the thought of a fourth
Grand Slam final. And no doubt some at home will have curled their lips,
too, at this sight. It is they who are the miserable ones, though, they
who need to find the joy in the moment. Murray has already done his
There are people who did not think they would see this in their lifetime; take Murray away and they probably wouldn’t.
He has become the greatest British tennis player since the year Judy Garland was cast in The Wizard of Oz.
Onlooker: Murray's girlfriend Kim Sears
Oops: Tsonga was making several unforced errors
Murray, the Lawn Tennis Association must hope, will inspire a
generation the way winning the Ashes in 2005 turned their older brothers
back onto cricket.
Capering around like a buffoon, cracking wise, bouncing up and down like
an excited schoolgirl is not part of the deal. The journey has been too
long and has taken too much out of him to worry about striking poses.
Just watch the man play and remember where this started. It is not part
of nature’s deal, Dunblane to SW19. This is against all conception of
how it should be done. Credit where it is due. This is the Wimbledon
men’s final: and somebody from nowhere’s here.