Davis Cup - Tramlines: Murray more Scot than Brit

Mon, 11 Jul 16:31:00 2011

After a successful return to Davis Cup action, an emotional Andy Murray was moved to tears - though not, Tramlines suspects, by the joy of slaying the mighty Luxembourg to rule the roost in Euro Africa Zone Group II.

Davis Cup - Murray more Scot than Brit

"The support this week has been great," Murray told Eurosport's own Rob Curling after his match. "It's been packed every day. I don't get chance to come back to Scotland very often so it's nice to be here."

It might have been something to do with being in Glasgow, then. The Braehead Arena crowd gave him a standing ovation, growing only louder when the tears came.

Compare the crowd's reaction to beating Gilles Muller in a relatively minor match to Murray's Wimbledon campaign just three weeks ago.

The man, unequivocally ranked fourth in the world, reached a third consecutive semi-final on the grass, only to fall short against Rafael Nadal, with 10 Grand Slams to his name at the age of 25.

Of course he had support of the Wimbledon crowd, but to say that those who visit SW19 have not yet unanimously accepted Murray is not unfair. Mid-tournament Murray called out the court comedians who persist in calling out 'Come on, Tim!' during the hallowed hushes between points. Just a harmless joke?

Certain elements of English fans have struggled to support Murray throughout his career. They've seen his petulant manner on court when things aren't going his way. They've heard his voice, which sounds as if he's been forced to spend a rainy weekend at Butlins. Murray has had to grow up in front of our eyes, from a scrawny kid of 17 winning the boys' title at the US Open in 2004, to the conqueror of all (with the exception of three players feted as amongst the best three players in history), with plenty of growing pains along the way. It's a similar, crushing expectation that Laura Robson is currently trying to adapt to.

But none of this matters. The distrust of Murray goes back to 2006, when the Scot, as legend has it, became an anti-English traitor, taking pleasure in England's struggles at the 2006 World Cup.

Nowadays the perception that he's British when he's winning and Scottish when he loses is so ingrained with some that it's impossible to shift. Heaven forfend that he can be both.

And, of course, Murray never said anything nearly so controversial and anti-English in the first place.

The Daily Mail's Des Kelly clarified all this (not for the first time) in 2009.

"I interviewed Murray and Tim Henman together for the first time. Murray was late joining the conversation and dropped into his chair midway through a chat about the impending football World Cup.

Naturally, we immediately teased him about Scotland's absence from the competition. As Henman snorted with laughter, I asked Murray what he would be doing while we all watched the World Cup. Reading a good book, perhaps?

With the appropriate degree of sarcasm, Murray replied by saying he would be 'supporting whoever England were playing against'. So we mocked him some more and moved on. It appeared as a transcript in this paper, exactly as the conversation took place, and the entire exchange was obviously a joke.

Then another paper picked up the exchange a couple of days later, ran half-a-dozen paragraphs on a news page and from that point on the truth went flying out of the window along with any sense of perspective.

Murray received sacks of hate mail, his comments were debated on BBC Radio Four's Today show, grotesque figures like ex-MP David Mellor lectured him on how to wave the Union flag and an endless array of columnists have queued up to stoke the fires of animosity."

No wonder that Murray enjoyed his time back in Scotland, a place which he left at the age of 15 to craft his game on the clay of Barcelona.

But if British fans want the same relationship with the best male tennis player from these shores since Fred Perry (and for who knows how long afterwards?) as the Glasgow crowd enjoyed, then it's time to cut Murray a little slack - and certainly to leave the needless national schisms aside.

TWEET OF THE WEEK: "So many times I look at a clock and its 9:11. Weird.." Unless it's stopped ticking, Ivo Karlovic...

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "This competition is the only team competition that is valued in the world of tennis and we all like to play for our nation. But sometimes, from my perspective as a top player it is really difficult to organise your schedule to play for your country every match. Now I am here, but still it is very difficult because I am not 100 per cent ready for the match." Having Novak Djokovic on the bench if you need him is not a bad option, and Serbia duly wrapped up a Davis Cup quarter-final win with the new world number one's sole contribution being to lose his doubles match.


Tramlines spent its formative years living and breathing tennis, watching Yannick Noah berate line judges and admiring Steffi Graf's backhand slice from the comfort of its couch at home. Nowadays, Tramlines can often be seen wearing Andre Agassi's old denim shorts, sleeping under its desk in an office with an overzealous air-con machine, whilst devouring punnets of strawberries and pints of Pimms in a bid to bring you the best of the world's tennis. It boasts a 100 per cent record against Alex Bogdanovic on clay and has a top-spin forehand frequently compared to that of the great MaliVai Washington.

Tramlines / Eurosport

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