Last night, before the Wimbledon semis, an Aussie asked me what the deal is between Murray and the British nation. I was probably not the right person to ask; I consider myself to be towards the most apathetic end of the enthusiasm spectrum.
Thinking about it briefly, I said I was keener on Greg Rusedski when he was playing than I am on Murray. At least Greg appeared to be a keen carrier of the hopes of a nation, even if he was a native Canadian. Murray, despite turning out regularly for Davis Cup matches, unambiguously doesn’t engage with the Great British Tennis Public; those flag-waving Jerusalem types who follow the sport for two weeks a year. But then I’d struggle to warm to a semi-adoring crowd who still pine for Tim Henman. Saying he’d prefer to win the US Open than Wimbledon was no doubt designed to wound.
Murray’s a firebrand Scot with a prickly personality. His on-court demeanour often rubs people up the wrong way. But he’s competing in an individual sport (though he seems to be in a Team Murray clique with his Mum and Bro) and is entirely entitled to cast off any outside pressures and concentrate on what’s best for him and his game. All the best sportsmen and women are driven and focussed, often to the point of appearing detached.
It may be that winning a Slam would see Murray come out of his shell a bit more. I sincerely hope so. There’s a good chance we won’t find out any time soon though. Beating Fed tomorrow will be a Herculean task. If there’s another final defeat to the great Swiss then my next hope is that the crowd embrace Murray and melt that big frozen Caledonian heart of his.