Tears on the lawn as Murray gives his most honest performance
TV VIEW:THE CHATTERING class were muttering Andy Murray needed to brighten up and emerge from that doleful retreat of suspicion and mistrust. What better way than to appoint Ivan Lendl as coach. The only time you knew the stony-faced Czech wasn’t all titanium and computer chip was when the sweat dripped off the end of his nose. That, sci-fi geeks will tell you, is a singularly human trait.
But in defeat at Wimbledon Murray gave the most unguarded, honest performance of his life. Tears on the lawn. Breaking voice. Hesitant, emptied and beaten by a beautiful, stunning, freakish player Roger Federer, he became human Murray, fragile Murray and he entered the Great British psyche. He is loved. He will be loved more. Next year the red-eyed player from Dunblain filling up on Centre Court can look forward to even more pressure.
“It’s a devastating loss,” said Tim Henman in the BBC commentary box. Henman is the only living person who could possibly know just how devastating it was. Boris Becker, sometimes comical, has a gift for nailing the point. “He was beaten by a better player here today. There is no shame.”
That was the issue messing around in Murray’s head. He left his best game out on the court and it wasn’t enough.
Federer? On court he’s is not much different from Lendl. He leaked his emotions afterwards not during and as the Wimbledon crowd chanted “Andy, Andy . . .” sometime after six o’clock it was as much for the mental health of the Scot as a serious belief he could break Federer serving for the championship.
“Andy, Andy, Andy . . .” It was a good old British leg up in the face of inevitable defeat. The debenture holder seats became football terrace, almost commoner as that bridge back to 1936 and Fred Perry’s last British win collapsed. Posh and Becks, Dr Who aka Matt Smith, Alex Ferguson, Steve Redgrave, David Cameron, they all crammed in thinking that if it didn’t rain and if the roof wasn’t closed to remove the vagaries of the sun and the wind and temperature maybe Murray could have done it. Like a fine wine Federer was best chilled at the perfect temperature.
The news on BBC called Federer the player who can create “beauty out of cruelty”, and showed a clip of the world number one sprinting to the net both feathering and cutting a ball inches over the net as he tempered Murray’s greater power.
Wimbledon finals and British players always depart with what ifs and maybes. Yesterday was no different over a compelling afternoon. If he was Irish we might say: Tried again. Failed again. Failed better.
The women. Well, Serena’s hair. Styled this year to look as though she had been raised in a hedge by a family of sparrows, she again drew images of the gladiator. And so it went in the Centre Court Ludus for the first half of the women’s final.
There were fountains of metaphorical blood, gushing, spurting, strafing the grass. The crowd went aahhh. Like the final episode of Spartacus Blood and Sand where the champion of the coliseum Spartacus and the rest of the slaves began planting their swords in the heads of Capua’s Governor of gore Batiatus and his guests, here was murder in SW19.
“It’s hard to see it lasting any more than a hour at this stage,” said John McEnroe just as Serena pirouetted and gracefully slashed another gaping wound into Agnieszka Radwanska.
“Radwanska hasn’t gotten a break point in this match,” said a mildly concerned Lindsay Davenport.
It was an interesting afternoon and full of violence on Saturday. If you flicked between the tennis breaks to Sky you could see BBC tennis anchor Sue Barker firing a bazooka at the irritating, moustachioed Wynn Evans, who sings in the Go Compare add and then, jumping back to the BBC see the scary, hot, crazy chick smiling serenely from the studio over looking the All England Club.
Ed Byrne on Mock the Week once came out with a one-liner on demand when Dara Ó Briain set the subject on ‘Unlikely things you hear from a sports commentator’.
“Ah the smack of leather on willow . . .” cooed Byrne. “As Sue Barker walks into a tree.”
Harsh but . . . Radwanska wasn’t laughing. A short-lived revival from her until Spartacus, er Serena, regained her composure.
She hit four straight aces at one point in the third set in a 49-second game.
After that it was all bouncing and jumping and a big happy, smiley face. There were hugs and kisses as a ‘God take me now and I’ll die happy’ feeling swept around the arena. Boy was Davy Fitzgerald a happy man when the Clare hurlers beat Dublin.