Before you ask, I’ll come out and admit it: Yes, I am a Brit.
But even those who are not from this great nation of tea-drinkers surely must admit that Andrew Murray is a pretty damn fine tennis player. After all, he is a member of that rather intimidating gang known as the “Top Four”.
I just felt that I needed to write down a few words after witnessing what I thought was a sizzling display of shot-making by the Scot who has managed to whip a small island into a fit of hysterics over his racket skills.
Before you start accusing me of having caught the fever which is known in these parts as “Murray-mania” I would like to point out that even I, British promoter numero uno, find some of the comments made by the commentators on British Eurosport hilarious.
Today’s best quote from one of the commentators on duty had to be that Tim Henman’s achievements at Wimbledon were “amazing”. Now, as much as I love Tiger Tim, I would not call his efforts at Wimbledon “amazing”. I would call Pete Sampras, Bjorn Borg and Roger Federer’s escapades on the glorious greens of the All England Club “amazing”. Actually, I would call their achievements “phenomenal”.
Of course I am thankful to Timmy for providing millions of us Brits with hope for many years. However, I think that the British commentators, media and public in general are often prone to over-hyping their own countrymen (as in this instance). But I am giving Tiger Tim an A+ for effort; the guy made it to the semi-finals at Slam-level six times and that is no mean feat.
Anyway, back to Murray and here is someone I think our country has good reason to be excited about. Yes, I am going to take a moment to brag: first British tennis player to be ranked in the top three and first British player who (I think) has a good chance of winning a Slam. (Maybe even more than one...who knows?)
Murray’s performance in his opening match at the French Open reminded me why he gets us all so excited.
Now I do realise that Murray’s opponent was Juan Ignacio Chela, a man who is not even ranked inside the top 100. However, Chela hails from Argentina and I never like to underestimate an Argentinian (or a Spaniard) on clay. Plus, we all know that Murray does not exactly love the red stuff. His best result in Paris so far has been a third round exit last year.
However, when watching Murray today I almost forgot that he was playing on clay. Yes, he was that good. He practically ground down his opponent with his wonderful variety of shots. Chela looked worn out before the first set was even over.
Some of Murray's play reminded me of the kind of magic that Roger Federer has so often weaved with his racket to destroy opponents in the early rounds of a Slam. (Please do not attack me for saying this Fed fans – I am also a fully-fledged member of the Rockin’ Roger fan club!)
Murray used his famous drop-shot against a lethargic looking Chela to great effect. He also used the backhand cross-court passing shot, which has become somewhat of a trademark for him, to great effect. At one point he even did a very Federer-like forehand lob from the baseline, again, to great effect. It was almost as though he was using Chela to feed him balls so that he could wow the audience with a display of every shot in the book.
The final score line read: 6-2, 6-2, 6-1. The match was over in 1 hour and 43 minutes. During that time Murray hit an impressive 55 winners. After the match even Murray seemed shocked at just how brilliantly he played, saying: “I wasn't expecting to play that well and it was a bit surprising.”
I do not wish to speak too soon and jinx things for Andy, but I really think that if he can keep up this kind of performance he has a good chance of going deep into the draw. Of course a well-known Spaniard will almost certainly await him should he make it as far as the semis but Andy has said that his main aim is to make it to the second week.
So it appears that his results in Monte Carlo and Madrid were not just a fluke. Andy really does seem to be getting the hang of this whole “clay thing”. Let’s just hope he can show the world that he is now a man to be reckoned with on all surfaces.