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blog post
Tennis

Andy Murray: the new reality

US Open (a final word)

Photo of Andy Murray US Open final

Path to victory: Andy Murray in the US Open final
© Francisco Diez Photography

All credit to Neil Armstrong and pals, but Murray’s win – at least for British tennis fans – feels better than Man’s first walk on the moon.

The world feels a different place. With Andy Murray’s victory the landscape of tennis in the modern era has fundmentally changed. It doesn’t matter that before winning we thought him capable of doing so. That he had the skill and the persistence, the right team, the experience. This of a whole different order. The ‘simple’ fact of winning his first slam has left us with a new reality. And that makes all the difference to our perception of him and of the game.

It is a huge achievement on many levels. Not least because, for so long, the British mindset, often fuelled by an overly-critical British media, but also by a peculiar and too often pernicious self-deprecation, that it is always better somehow to be the underdog, that we should feel arrogant if we admit of talent and achievement in ourselves as individuals – this mindset could have defeated Andy a year or two ago. That he was not built to perform on the stage of excellence. That he had tried and gallantly failed.

Pros and cons of self-deprecation

He couldn’t completely ignore the powerful forces and restrictions of our cultural history, but he overcame them – no small feat – and today has been rewarded. It was interesting to hear him talk, in the BBC post-match interview, about his worries going into the match, and of the relief he felt after winning. These are valuable, honest and endearing sentiments. So while we need more confidence as a nation, it does not rule out the positive self-appraisal and integrity that helps lead to improvement and great achievement.

Self-deprecation can be good. It gives us great comedy and great drama; it gives us pleasant and admirable characters across a range of sports. But too much, too often, can wreak havoc with a person’s confidence, often subsconciously. It has been a ceaseless chain through the generations. Shocked at our past achievements, we ask, for example: how did we ever win the war?… and answer with a submissive smile: we didn’t, the American’s did it for us. There is no end to the British capacity to seek out and flagellate ourselves with past failings, unfortunate mishaps and jolly disasters of potentially heroic men and women.

This is why Murray’s win – in addition to the physical demands of such a long match against a truly exceptional player like Novak Djokovic – was something that will stand as one of the great moments in British sporting history. It’s great to be around during what has been called a new golden era in tennis. Or the Roger, Rafa, Novak and Andy Show as it could be called, with each winning a slam this year.

Thanks guys, it’s an honour to watch. Play on!

Up and coming:

ATP World Tour Paris Masters,  29 October – 4 November

– – –

For all those wishing to ‘debate’ the issue of national identity in relation to Andy Murray, there’s ample opportunity for doing so on the readers’ comments at the Independent, The Guardian and especially the Daily Telegraph… where you will find bickering, joshing, lambasting and vain conjecture to last you an entire evening.

– – –

Also, a word of thanks to Aimee Lewis at the BBC, who did the live reporting on their website during the men’s final. The quality of writing was extremely impressive, as she kept us up-to-date with Murray’s progress.

Aimee Lewis on Twitter

Update:

Related external link:  Murray’s self-doubts

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Copyright © 2012 David Hansard / davidhansard.wordpress.com
All articles on davidhansard.wordpress.com are written by David Hansard unless otherwise stated.

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