Monday, 12 November 2012

The Murray conundrum

There was plenty of indignance splattered across social media on Sunday night during Andy Murray's semi-final against Roger Federer at the ATP World Tour Finals in London.

Some of the most authoritative voices in the British tennis press shook their heads collectively at the temerity of the British crowd to boo one of their own and cheer Federer - a man who's from (gasp!) Switzerland.

"A lot of people in this country don't know a good thing when they see one" - Neil Harman, tennis correspondent, The Times.

 So what if British people want to jeer someone who happens to have been born on the same island as them? Tickets for last night's match were going for an average of £159 - not small change for those who aren't lucky enough to be paid to travel the world and watch the best players.

Admittedly some of the negativity towards Murray from spectators was, at times, brutish, but I say that those people who work hard and spend their money on a night out watching some sporting entertainment in South London can side with (or against) whoever they want.

If they are advised to always root for whatever has 'GBR' in brackets next to it they'll soon be bound by the type of blind loyalty that has got football into so much of trouble during the last year.

It's also hugely important to consider who was on the other side of the net from Murray. No one in tennis generates the kind of superstar delirium that Roger Federer brings out in his fans. A man who has broken so many records that his CV makes for a dizzying read of statistics and records.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion has been winning tournaments around the world since 2001 and has shared his most euphoric triumphs and hollowest nadirs with his fans. As bizarre as it sounds, Murray's journey to etch his name firmly into the history books has only just begun following his remarkable 2012.

Get behind him if you want but do it because you like his personality and/or his ever-improving style of attacking tennis. Just don't be a patriotic sheep.