Belfast Telegraph

Andy Murray can take a lot of heart from his clay play

By Billy Weir

The odds were stacked against Andy Murray as he stepped onto the deeply orange surface of the Madrid Open to play the deeply orange Rafael Nadal.

The last British man to have any joy moulding success from clay was Tony Hart but marriage seems to have metamorphosised Murray into a new beast.

"It is a dream final in the Spanish capital," began Sky presenter Marcus Buckland.

"Will the King of Clay rule again on the red stuff or will the British No.1 finally claim victory over Rafa on the dirt?" Don't be daft, there's more chance of the SNP winning nearly all the seats in Scotland…

And talking of scary wee Scottish women who terrorise men, while all of Rafa's family were in attendance and constantly focused upon by Spanish TV cameras, there was no sign of Mammy Murray. It turns out she was having a duel with Nicola Sturgeon, wrestling over a deep fried battered Barley Water bottle.

Judy's wee lad's hopes were helped no end by Greg Rusedski and Lief Shiras back in the studio backing Nadal to win and while all pre-match polls were predicting a Spanish landslide, three games in and Scotland's finest wasn't labouring at all.

He couldn't even be put off by the ball girls who appeared to have been dressed by Austin Powers, brilliant pink tops, pink polka-dotted shorts and white knee-length socks. You wouldn't get this sort of thing at Wimbledon.

Still, at least it was a distraction from Rafa fiddling with his shorts as the pressure increased, with commentator Mark Petchey revealing that, "Rafa's forehand is still in the locker room". It seemed to be down his shorts but nevertheless a careless oversight from Spain's finest, or the Balearic Islands' No.1 as he is known when he's losing.

Indeed, so short of highlights were the host broadcasters that they gave us possibly the most boring statistic ever when a caption revealed that the ball had been spinning at 4253 rpm.

"I don't know about you, but my heart is racing," blurted lead commentator Barry Millns, with a heartbeat of 4253 bpm as victory moved ever closer.

"It has been a magical conclusion to his week in the Magic Box," Millns added, which is the stadium in Madrid in case you were wondering, but it wasn't magic, it was something else, as Murray scrawled 'marriage works' on the camera lens.

No more clay nightmares for claymore wielding Murray, he can take heart from that, but he didn't win 4253 seats in Scotland, so he'll have to settle for being Britain's No.1 instead.

The good, the bad and the ugly

THE GOOD: A strangely entertaining show on Sky in Hamilton v Henry, a five-a-side football match arranged for no other reason than F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton wanted to play footy with some Arsenal legends, and Ray Parlour, against a team captained byThierry Henry. A bit like Eddie Irvine playing against a select side from the Bangor v Ards Irish Cup final trilogy of 1993.

THE BAD: And keeping with the theme, poor wee Lewis was given a torrid time by Jamie Carragher, prompting commentator Martin Brundle to ponder would he have “all his legs and ankles intact for Monaco”. It’ll hardly matter, he’ll still be second at worst.

THE UGLY: And the beautiful game has highs and lows, Paul Merson in the tightest outfit since Kylie’s gold hotpants, but scoring two absolutely brilliant goals to leave co-commentator Martin Tyler pondering: “That’s the pick of the bunch, I wonder how he’ll celebrate later?” I think we know, just don’t let him borrow that parked Mercedes.

Belfast Telegraph


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