Murray and the summer of expectation

It rained, she reigned, but will Andy Murray reign and give the British something to cheer ahead of the London Games.

    Murray and the summer of expectation
    With victory Murray would become the first British Wimbledon champion since Fred Perry in 1936 [AFP]

    Everything you need to know about Britain and being British is being encapsulated in this memorable, wet, royal summer. No-one here will forget it.

    The Queen's 60th jubilee, the London Olympics to come and the backdrop of that record-breaking rain. Oh that rain. We're lucky to have it, but it doesn't feel like it. The wettest on record, persistent, demoralising, sometimes it has felt apocalyptic.

    But the rain didn't beat the Wimbledon tennis. God bless the roof over centre court. And on this historic, pivotal British summer the nation finally has a men's singles finalist. Andy Murray.

    How the peculiarly twee tennis fans - millions of them when Wimbledon is on - have suffered before the Scotsman made history. Suffered and cheered and encouraged and hoped.

    It is 74 years since a British men's finalist and 76 years since a winner, Fred Perry.

    A succession of losers crashing out in then first round, the first week. I watched them crumble as a child and have then covered their failures for over 20 years.

    Then came Tim Henman. Nice, decent, talented. But not a champion.

    The failure was puzzling and embarrassing and still the public cheered and hoped.

    The Lawn Tennis Assocation pick up tens of million of dollars of surplus from the lucrative Wimbledon Championship each year. This makes them genuine contenders for the world's least successful sporting association - pound for pound as they say in boxing.

    But Andy Murray is different. A genuine contender - unlucky to be having to mix it with three astonishing sportsmen in Djokovic, Federer and Nadal.

    He persisted and sweated and fought. He huffed and puffed and blew over Tsonga and reached the final.

    Scots and English unite

    Is he Scottish? Is he British? Depends who you are taking to and when. It doesn't really matter? He's certainly a finalist.

    And some of those oh so British fans who queue - another national 'quality' - for hours to get inside, will get to see a home player in the final in this of all years.

    And millions will genuinely crowd around their TV sets and laptops here and cheer him on, ignoring the one friend and family member who says: 'look i just don't like him.'

    I don't really warm to Andy Murray, never have. Tennis is a sport driven by personalities. I was a Connors man not a Borg. McEnroe not Lendl. I report on him, rate him, but I don't warm to him.

    "What I really like about him is how little he would care about what I or anyone else thinks. All he wants is to play his best and win"

    Aesthetically the poor fella falls short of the legends who have prevented him winning a grand slam. I prefer watching Nadal play, some prefer Murray's style.

    His mumbling sardonic interviews shouldn't matter or grate but they do.

    What I really like about him is how little he would care about what I or anyone else thinks. All he wants is to play his best and win.

    I am pretty sure he is a proud Scotsman who in the hands of 'Team Murray' has tried to be a touch more charismatic and well rounded, the sponsors like that.

    But he really has sharpened his game up this year working with new coach Ivan Lendl and while I'm not expecting him to beat Federer, six times champion and imperious on grass.....well he might.

    And wouldn't that be something, a diamond jubilee, an Olympics and a Wimbledon men's singles champion.

    How Scots and Brits and those who came here to visit will remember that trio of events.

    How they will remember the summer of 2012.

    It rained. She reigned. Will he reign?

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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