Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Andy doesn't need to win Wimbledon to be great

Andy Murray

Only in Britain would being the fourth best player in the world appear as something of a failure. Fair enough, Andy Murray gained a lot more fans on Sunday, losing the Wimbledon final against Roger Federer, thanks to his show of emotion at missing out on his first Grand Slam title.

Cue tremendous sympathy, lachrymose musings on the fairytale that wasn't and a kind of perverse delight in the ability of wily foreigners (like the Italians in the football) to outwit the Anglo-Saxon. Even if the Anglo-Saxon is a Scot.

But really. If there was no such thing as Wimbledon, no Duke of Kent, no SW19, no saturation coverage, no Sue Barker and Sir Cliff, no strawberries and cream, Andy Murray would be hailed as one of the greatest British sportsmen of the age, competing among the greatest generation of tennis players. More than likely, without that tournament dogging his heels, he might have that little less vulnerability or that little less humanity which would allow him to collect the major titles in Australia or France or the US.

As it is, because past generations of fairly mediocre racquet-wielding Englishmen have massively failed to win on the last day in Centre Court, the agony is heaped upon the shoulders of the most gifted player Britain has produced in more than half a century. Already, the hope is building for next year. There is nothing worse than that hope. It may ultimately consign Murray to the ranks of also-rans, no matter how illustrious his career elsewhere.

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