Ruth Wishart: First time in years I’ve been kept up by a handsome young Scot
IT’S OFFICIAL: Andy Murray can do it five times a night. Play sets in the final of a tennis major, that is. And smile when he wins. Sort of. Almost. But more than coach Ivan Lendl, whom you would never confuse with a ray of Czech sunshine.
He kept me up half the night, did our Andy, and it’s a a fair few years since I could say that about a handsome, athletic 25-year-old Scotsman.
After his US Open triumph, I’m thrilled for him and for his nearest and dearest, and positively ecstatic at the thought of the sheer indigestibility of all these hats now requiring to be eaten by elements of the southern tabloid press corps who lost no opportunity to berate and belittle him over the last few years.
He first got on the wrong side of them with a throwaway line which he should probably have thrown away. Asked who he would support in a football World Cup he quipped “anyone but England”. Except it wasn’t filed as a quip but as a declaration of war.
The charge sheet also contained other cardinal sins. He didn’t charm like Tim, or smarm like Roger. Translation: he couldn’t be bothered massaging press egos.
He hadn’t the bottle to win the big ties. He was no Novak, no Rafa.
Yes, well, get tucked into that headgear, guys.
The problem with Andy’s image is that some of his detractors suffered from an irony bypass. Or, more accurately, they didn’t get the brand of quintessentially Scottish humour which can travel to Liverpool or Leeds but is lost to media press conferences in London.
Those who know Andy describe him as a lovely guy with a nice line in drollery. Those who don’t file him under whingeing, monotonous Jock.
And he’s never wasted too much precious energy trying to acquire a home counties gloss. What you see is what you get, and what you get is one fine athlete.
Though not one of a kind. Solo Scots sports people tend not to be charm school graduates. Think Monty, who can glower for the globe when things go sour on the fairway, but who dominated the European tour for years, and morphed into a genial Ryder Cup captain. Think Fergie whose dress room rants are the stuff of scary legend, but who is the most successful premier division manager ever. Not even to mention carrying off the Champions League.
No surprise that Sir Alex jetted off to Flushing Meadows to watch the Murray v Djokovic showdown. Grumpy gits recognise one of their own. Winners, that is. Top drawer, dedicated, passionate, perfectionist, sports stars who save their worst rage for any perceived shortfalls within themselves.
When Murray became the Olympic gold medallist, die hard dismissers managed to make even that sound second best. It’s not as if he did it on a grand slam event, sniffed some. Not as if he’s ever won a real title.
Well now he has. Game set and match to the man from Dunblane.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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