Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Grisly, Ghastly and Gripping Is Just How Andy Likes It

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Grisly, Ghastly and Gripping Is Just How Andy Likes It

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Jones

MAKE no mistake. The rivalry between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray is now the most important in tennis. These two men, separated by a week in age and only a few Rizla-breadths in talent, will contest many more Grand Slam finals on every surface -- perhaps excepting clay -- in the coming two or three years. Murray fans needn't be too disappointed: the boy will win his share of them.

Their Australian Open Final A yesterday was a streetfight: brutal far more often than it was beautiful. For the first two sets it was possible to imagine that this is what the bare-knuckle bouts watched by Pierce Egan and chums in the early 19th century must have felt like: the argument unsparing and unending, settled only when one man was physically destroyed. Gripping, gripping, grisly, ghastly stuff.

These two pugilists of the court went at one another for four-and-aquarter hours in the Melbourne night: a marathon run at sprint pace. Both looked weary before they even began to play. When Murray lost rallies, his head rocked back in exhaustion. When Djokovic was under the hammer, he rolled his eyes and puffed out his cheeks.

Not that the weariness gave either man a reason to back off. This was hard yakka, alright. At the end of A the second set the crowd was treated to the grisly sight of Murray's seeping, blistered right foot being patched up. It was enough to turn the stomach.

The gruesome thing was not the exposed flesh itself but the thought Murray was playing world-class tennis on the ball of a foot that looked like a raw beefburger.

His heavyweight boxing mate David Haye once explained a 12-round loss to Wladimir Klitschko by showing the world his broken little toe. Murray could have blamed his gammy foot yesterday and received a great deal more sympathy. But this is tennis and everyone knows the deal. …

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