June 26th, 2008

Henman And Murray

I never believed Tim Henman would win Wimbledon, but I think Andy Murray might. I was watching him play Santoro the other day and he's good. Very good.  He has the strength, he has the skills, he  has the hunger.

I doubt if he'll ever have the following Henman did. Henman was English, Murray is Scots- and there's not a lot of love lost between the English and the Scots these days. Britain is dissolving and Scotland- to the average Wimbledon-attending English person- is almost as foreign as France. Gordon Brown, our spectacularly unpopular Prime Minister, may want to hold the two nations together as they drift apart- but he's just about the only one who does. 

Andrew Marr put it nicely on TV the other day. He said the nations were joined together as two slices of pizza are- "by strings of melting cheese".

Actually I like Murray more than I liked Henman. Henman used to annoy me.  He was a caricature Englishman, sleek, modest, bland; he might almost have stepped out of a drawing room comedy of the 1930s. And I hated the wishful thinking that insisted year after year that he was a contender when he never was. He was a fine player, dainty, good to watch, but there were always better ones in the draw. He didn't have a prayer against Roger Federer. I also felt a little sorry for him- having to carry the weight of nationalist expectations he could never fulfil.

With Murray you get what you see. He's very Scottish- raw-boned, driven, intense; no small-talk, no side. He's about the game and that's all.  He's not pretty. But he's beaten Federer abroad and he could do it here. On the right day he could beat anyone.