Wimbledon 2021: Jamie on Andy - "He hates losing more than he loves winning"
Wimbledon is changing and from next year there will be no more Sacred Sundays for the tennis elite to catch their breath going into Manic Monday. A player like Andy Murray’s conqueror, Denis Shapovalov, will strut onto the court in black socks and traditionalists in the crowd might want to alert the referee, but their complaints would probably be in vain.
And what about football-type banter between competitors and fans? Do we want the most famous, most traditional tournament in the world to be aping the US and Australian Opens? Jamie Murray for one welcomes the rock ‘n’ roll atmosphere - especially if it’s going to help his kid brother in his comeback.
In Andy’s second-round match against Germany’s Oscar Otte the younger Murray between points picked out Centre Court fans to engage in pretend arguments. He used the shouty call-and-response to get himself up for big points and turned a deficit into a thrilling five-set triumph. “I hope the fans don’t think it’s a bit weird that I’m staring at them and screaming at them for like an hour,” he said afterwards.
Jamie is the man who knows Andy best. He watched that match and applauded the two-times champ’s tactics of using the crowd as being typical of the fierce will-to-win Andy’s displayed right from the start.
“He was always very competitive,” Jamie said of their boyhood together in Dunblane. “I think we both were but he’s more fiery than I am. Maybe I was a bit more calm and placid about things because he never liked to lose. The older Andy got, the more he developed into the player he is today and the person he is today. For him, it’s almost like he hates losing more than he loves winning. That’s what spurs him on. It’s obviously helped him in his career to have the success he’s had.”
Now 34, playing with a metal hip and trying to get back to a level of competitiveness that meets his own exactingly high standards, Andy might need some help. The crowd, Jamie said, can provide it, even in the genteel surroundings of the All-England Club. He detects a post-lockdown clamour to get out and shout.
“The match [against Otte] was pretty up and down,” said Jamie. “Once Andy started to display a lot more positive energy on the court and gave the crowd something to get behind, once he started to engage with them more, he played a lot better.
“I think he needs to do that in future matches, especially at the moment because people [who’re watching tennis] have been locked up for 18 months. They haven’t been able to do anything and want to shout [for their favourites]. He should engage with the fans, get them fired up.”
Sadly for Jamie his men’s doubles campaign ended 24 hours after Andy exited SW19. He and partner Bruno Soares were leading in their second-round match against Robin Hasse (Netherlands) and Andrey Golubev (Kazakhstan) but ultimately lost 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-2.
Murray blamed himself for the defeat. “I’m trying to get to the bottom of my serving issues,” he said. “The rest of my game is okay but I blew my serve in the second set. All of a sudden, then, it was one-set-all and they had something to fight for. They played a really good third set but if I hadn’t had issues with my serve then we wouldn’t have lost that game when we had them at 40-15. Fifteen minutes later we’d lost the set and were a break down. It then became two breaks and that was that.”
Murray offered some insight into the subtle mechanics of tennis, an area which fascinates its most avid followers. Would he consider rebuilding his serve which he’d done once before by “lowering the toss”? “Well,” he said, “the toss has been an issue for me all through my life. I’ve been trying not to step [into the serve], which has been a big change for me. That went well in Australia but since then it’s been a bit of a battle. It’s very frustrating.”
For Cameron Norrie, playing Roger Federer, the problem was returning the second serve of the great Swiss. “I gave a lot of free points,” said Norrie, beaten 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 on Centre Court. “I was disappointed with my level.
“It wasn’t the level I’d been playing previously, and definitely not the way I played in the round before. Obviously that was partly because of the way Roger plays. He was too good for me in this match. He serves very well, especially with the second one. It’s tough to get into the point and be the one dictating, especially when he gets into a rhythm, which happened in the first two sets. I didn’t get many looks on return.
“He’s phenomenal at being aggressive and proactive after the serve. He’s obviously very comfortable at Wimbledon and on Centre Court. But I loved it out there too. Regardless [of the result] it was amazing to play against him, to experience that kind of atmosphere.”
Norrie is half-Scottish, half-Welsh and was told that in rugby-daft Wales a pub had tweeted how they’d chosen to cheer his Wimbledon progress on TV rather than watch the Red Dragons play Canada. “It’s good to hear they kept my match on down there,” he said. “I’ll definitely take that as a big compliment because I know how much Wales loves its rugby.”
This has been Norrie’s best Wimbledon following him reaching the final of Queen’s - can he now aim for top 20? “If I maintain my level, learn from my losses, then I think I could,” he said. “The biggest thing, though, is you have to win tournaments and I’ve not done that yet. I just have to keep pushing because I want to keep going up.”
A message from the Editor:
Get a year of unlimited access to all of The Scotsman's sport coverage without the need for a full subscription. Expert analysis of the biggest games, exclusive interviews, live blogs, transfer news and 70 per cent fewer ads on Scotsman.com - all for less than £1 a week. Subscribe to us today
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.