I always liked Andy Murray. Not because I am Scottish and he is Scottish and I like tennis. Mostly I like the idea of strawberries and cream, green lawns and sunny days..
I liked Andy, cause I felt maybe, despite a foot’s height difference, my inability to stop smiling and much better hair do, we had something in common.
I first really felt it watching him lose to Federer in the final. So chuffed that he even got that far and that he managed to win a set, but watching him, that narrow face growing narrower, with frustration tightening every muscle, felt a little like watching myself.
I know how easy it is to choke on the emotion of the moment. The immensity of what could be and the sense that you’re not big enough to fill it. That unavoidable feeling that it simply isn’t your destiny to be.. destined. It doesn’t matter how pretty a phrase I can turn, just like it doesn’t matter how nice a backhand he hits, you’re just not the person everyone is meant to remember.
It comes so easily to the likes of Nadal or even Federer. You sense they might have questioned at times if their knee or back would hold out, if the other guy’s serve was too big to return, the precision of their lobs, but they’ve never questioned themselves, their right to be there. I sensed a part of Andy always did. He looked around and wondered, why me? Can I really be the hero they want? Maybe wonder is the wrong word, maybe it’s too deep for conscious thought, it’s just how he felt. And that is the hardest thing to change. I don’t seem able to. Every time I try I end up back at the brick wall. The impenetrable brick wall built of my own sense of inadequacy.
Notice the tense..
A few days ago I sat watching him play Robredo and I definitely wasn’t watching myself anymore. I watched that narrow face growing narrower, with frustration tightening every muscle, found myself tightening my own fist in silent, unfelt support with every rallying shot, though they all too quickly sizzled to nothing. I felt his every shrinking step in the shadow of the titan he was playing, the number two seed, Andy Murray.
I wonder if he feels what an immense shift has occurred. I wonder how free it must be to think, I can; to only worry about your knee holding out, the precision of your lobs and not doubt for a second that you belong right there in the spotlight.
And now in the quarter finals, Federer gone, Nadal crashed out and I am right back to holding my head in my hands thinking.. Andy, Andy, come ON!
Still if he did it once, he can do it again. Freedom is a deep breath away. And if he can do it, maybe I can, maybe we all can. Maybe that’s why I really like Andy Murray.