Monday, 11 July 2016

This is how blissfully happy I felt when Andy Murray won his second Wimbledon title this afternoon...

Murray is (probably) the greatest tennis player Britain has ever produced - by far...

...the best since WWII, and probably even better than Fred Perry, who won his slam titles in an era when professionals weren't allowed to compete with amateurs. For a British player to win three slams in an era which includes Federer, Nadal and Djokovic is an extraordinary accomplishment. When you count his Olympic gold medal and the Davis Cup - no, we are definitely talking about the best British tennis player of all time, and one of the greatest sportsmen Britain has ever produced. His displays against Raonic and Berdych - and his fending off of a rampant Tsonga in the quarters - were all displays of the highest quality. A true champion.

Just as I'm sure Lendl left the Murray Camp in 2014 because he began to suspect that the back surgery the player had undergone the previous year had left him unable to win majors, I'm sure he returned because he realised that Murray was not only back to his old self - but, because he was no longer suffering from a dodgy back, was playing even better than he had when winning Wimbledon the first time in 2013. I'm not saying Lendl didn't make a difference this time: Murray ditched the flashier, artier elements of his considerable repertoire, and returned to the simpler, more brutal, more direct approach Lendl had convinced him to adopt in the first place. It's also been noticeable that, for the last two weeks, Murray has been utterly single-minded and in control of his emotions on court - the only time he allowed himself to become momentarily distracted was when he received the news (mid-match) that Djokovic had been put out by Sam Querrey. (What Lendl's temporary successor, Amelie Mauresmo, brought to the party remains a mystery - Murray's main accomplishment during her reign was to win the Davis Cup, for which, of course, she wasn't his coach. To be fair, he did start to master clay under her influence: no point in being mean.)

I can only presume that they'll wait until Murray retires before awarding him the knighthood that his career to date deserves (the Davis Cup alone would have guaranteed it).

Two things struck me about the post-match ritual. Murray mentioned David Cameron in a jocular but undoubtedly sympathetic way, while failing to allude to the presence of Nicola Sturgeon in the Royal Box. And, following extravagant - and evidently genuine - praise for Milos Raonic's team for their good manners and all-round niceness, Murray assured us that not all players' retinues were so decent: I couldn't help wondering which camp or camps he was thinking of. Federer? Djokovic? Nadal? I think we should be told - but we won't be, of course, until the inevitable autobiography eventually appears.

I'll end with a minor but persistent quibble - pronunciation. For God's sake, commentators and pundits. Milos Raonic has been competing in major championships since qualifying for the 2011 Australian Open (although I'd rather given up on him as The Next Big Thing until his extraordinary improvement this season). He is a Canadian, but his origins are Croatian. He is evidently proud of his heritage and pronounces his name: Milosh Rounich - you can hear him saying it on YouTube, here. Is that really so difficult? Of course it isn't. And it only took me 20 seconds to find it and listen to it. So why, between them, did the BBC's stellar team, while getting it right about 75% of the time, also render Raonic  as Ray Onick  or Ray Onich, and Milos phonetically, rather than as Milosh? During the Queens Club tournament just before Wimbledon, I even heard commentators wondering aloud why Bernard Tomic, an Australian player of Croatian heritage, pronounced his name to end with a hard "c" rather than a "ch". It just took me 30" to find a Guardian profile in which a "source close to the player" is quoted as saying it's to make him sound "less ethnic, more Australian".  And during the Cazech player Tomáš Berdych's Wimbledon semi-final against Murray, there was a discussion about how to pronounce Berdych's name - i.e. hard or soft "c". I just checked, and it's Berdick. Aren't commentators paid to carry out this sort of research - or couldn't they just ask the actual players when they meet them?

Finally, the American player Sam Querrey (Djokovic's conqueror at Wimbledon) pronounces his surname kwerry, with a short rather than a long "e" (which would make it queery). Which makes one wonder why, at the end of the Querrey-Djokovic (ich, obviously) match, Tim Henman, in a discussion with Sue Barker, referred to him constantly as "Sam Queery", as he does whenever commentating on one of the American's matches. I mean, did American commentators used to refer to Henman as Hinmahrn? Surely someone at the BBC could type out a list of phonetic spellings of the main players and hand it to these highly-paid experts - or email, them the links to the relevant 7" videos on YouTube.

Anyway, to hell with all that - Andy Murray won Wimbledon for the second time. Tonight, I will fall asleep wearing an expression very like this one:

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