Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

In a Golden Age, Now's the Time to Praise Andy, Not Bury Him

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

In a Golden Age, Now's the Time to Praise Andy, Not Bury Him

Article excerpt

Byline: James Lawton Award-winning columnist

[bar] HATEVER is resolved between Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga when dusk comes to the Centre Court today there is again reason enough to celebrate a British presence in the last stages of a Grand Slam.

He may not be everyone's cup of afternoon tea, his personality, win or lose, will probably never entrance the Wimbledon classes who anointed Tim Henman year after desperate year, but at some point we need to acknowledge Murray's extremely honourable place in the annals of his nation's sport.

No, he has never won a major tournament and too many times he has gone down in a fever of angst that has scarcely been in line with a tradition of stoic, if futile, striving that has marked every era of male British tennis since the hard-edged instincts of Fred Perry last delivered the title 76 years ago.

There is also a gut instinct hard to remove that ultimately Murray's destiny is always to be on the edge of a circle of extraordinary talent that, we have been reminded once again this week, is unprecedented.

Murray's tirades, his extreme body language, his apparently still umbilical attachment to the formidable matriarch in the box, have so often spoken not just of frustration but inevitable self-destruction.

Yet each year Murray comes back recommitted and this time after making the vital decision to seek the help of a major tennis figure like Ivan Lendl.

That was a concession from Murray that he needed a different kind of direction, a more detached guidance, and that he had become trapped in a cycle of nearly success, especially in the SW19 parish of unbreakable yearning.

Another source of encouragement going into to the semi-final with Tsonga was the enthusiastic support of Richard Krajicek, the formidable server who in 1996 ambushed Pete Sampras, inflicting his one Wimbledon defeat between 1993 and 2000, and then marched on to the title, overwhelming another outsider, American MaliVai Washington.

Last year, as Murray prepared for his semi-final with Rafael Nadal, the Dutchman paid his formal respects to the talent of Murray but pointed out he faced the immense difficulty of living in arguably the greatest age of men's tennis. …

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