Sunday, January 28, 2007


That’s the banner headline which blasted tennis player Andy Murray into the sports spotlight at Wimbledon in 2005.
As the decline of Britain’s last great Grand Slam hope, Tim Henman, continued relentlessly and he seemed to be heading for ever deepening obscurity, the media was desperate to find a new rising star. And the boy emerging from the mists of Dunblane seemed to satisfy the need for fresh hope.
Eighteen months later Murray’s performance has yet to match the hype and fulfil that hope. Unlike Henman, who regularly made it to Grand Slam quarter and semi-finals, Murray has still to get beyond the third or fourth round. In fact, he’s doing well if he gets that far.
The best that can be said about this young Scot, whose frequently snarling personality on court is far from attractive, is that his performance to date has been erratic. One day he can beat the Grand Slam master, Roger Federer, the next barely lift a racket.
Predictably, last week he was beaten in the fourth round of the Australian Open by Rafael Nadal. But for the first time Murray looked as if he might one day make good the hype when he put up a fight which left the world Number 2 so exhausted it may have contributed to his losing his quarter final match two days later.
The trouble with hype is that it so often exceeds what it promises or can be fulfilled. When it fails to deliver most people shrug it off with an air of what would you expect. But hype can be dangerous to the hyped man or woman. It can lead them to believe their own publicity and hamper their development.
In Murray’s case I am sure that as he has struggled to overcome the problem he is not a natural athlete and get a grip of his surly temperament, it has added to the pressure on him and contributed to his delusion that he is one of the tennis elite – a player in the game’s premier league when he’s still really only an aspiring member in the first division.
I believe the lad has the potential to equal Henman, but to stand a chance of doing any better he needs forget the hype and concentrate on developing his game.
Politicians like Gordon Brown and David Cameron are having a field day banging on about the importance of Britishness and ‘British values.’
Perhaps that is why more and more people are starting to think of themselves as English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish.
Copyright © Rebecca Hamilton 2007. All Rights Reserved