29
Jun 09

I Hate Andy Murray

FT + TMFD81 comments • 5,902 views
Andy Murray
Andy Murray chastises a tennis ball

During Wimbledon’s inaugural set of night-time tennis on Monday night, played under what’s become the most famous roof since the Sistine Chapel, I found that I loathe every particle of Andy Murray.

Now, I realize Andy Murray is a professional athlete. Macho theatrics and being as interesting as a pile of firewood come with the territory. But Wimbledon is not just a collection of freakishly fit young adults whacking things between each other, it’s a drama, and in this drama he pushes buttons I didn’t even know I possessed.

I can’t stand his super-psyched mom.

I can’t stand his periwinkle-eyed girlfriend.

I can’t stand the way he throws his wrist bands into the crowd, like Jimmy Page blessing his fans with a plectrum.

I cringe at his whiny tantrums after every mis-hit, the snarled barks at himself to “FOCUS!” (I would have thought focusing was a given.)

And the fierce fist-pumps that accompany every single point he wins — and he wins a lot of them — are tiresome and bathetic.

People whose opinions on tennis I respect say that despite all this they love his game. And it’s true that he will occasionally dink in a nifty drop-shot that leaves his opponent basically pissed off at him (which is the default reaction to Andy Murray anyway as far as I’m concerned). And he does run after every ball like a singed hyena. And yes, he’s Scottish, so I guess that’s something, though it’s difficult to hear it through the braying monotony of his voice.

But mostly I see a guy who is content to hit soft backhand slices at you until you lose all zest for life and find yourself strategizing excuses to forfeit the match out of sheer boredom — feign knee injury? eat some amphetamines? say that you actually really need to call your sister right now cause it was her birthday yesterday and you forgot? — and boom your shot goes wide.

You look across the net and there’s Andy. Fist pump! BARK! C’MON!!

Comments

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  1. 1
    Billy Smart on 30 Jun 2009 #

    I don’t have any strong opinions about Murray himself, but watching him last night every time that he did something the camera would cut to faces in the crowd; freakish-looking people bedecked in Union Jacks, oafish lads in ‘funny’ hats, bellowing contorted faces.

    “If people like you want him to win so much” I reflected “then I automatically want the other player to beat him”

  2. 2
    Pete on 30 Jun 2009 #

    I loathe tennis, and yet it seemed to be on in every pub I ended up in yesterday. I found the first three games (which Murray lost) hilarious, and warmed very quickly to Stan and his bizarre red nose. Its when the game got to 10pm I started to lose the will to live, WHERE IS THE NEWS I found myself demanding? I agree with all you say above. Murray’s fist pumps make Henman’s old ones look positively aggressive.

    That said I sense a touch of personal jibe about your piece Eli. Is it because he is bringing durly haired men into disrepute?

  3. 3
    Kat but logged out innit on 30 Jun 2009 #

    The BBC coverage is pretty horrendous this year – they’ve ramped up the ‘but how would Michael Jackson’s family feel about that double fault’ and not just shots of the crowd but *replays* of Ewan McGregor clapping that they’d just shown on the previous point – all while the next point is going on! They would never miss a delivery in cricket, why is suddenly acceptable to miss a serve in tennis so the viewers at home can look at a fvcking jumbo jet taking off?

    Otherwise I really enjoyed the match last night – so glad Stan pulled it back to 5 sets and gave Murray a bit of a challenge at last.

  4. 4
    Pete on 30 Jun 2009 #

    Oh, the other key point that does Murray no favours – he had Gordon Brown’s non-smile and appears to be developing his accent too!

    Who were the commentators last night, because they were pretty poor?

  5. 5
    Tracer Hand on 30 Jun 2009 #

    A subdued Johnny Mac and someone else, I believe.

    Pete you may have something with the personal angle – I do think Murray is giving over-excitable brillo-heads a bad name.

  6. 6
    lonepilgrim on 30 Jun 2009 #

    The someone else was Greg Rusedski – he sounded too similar to JM and kinda cancelled him out. Tim Henman was a better commentary companion in Murray’s previous match, sounding bizarrely like Jack Dee.

    If you think Murray is bad this time round you should have seen him in previous years – I feel like I should stick up for him – we Brits are so unfamilar with sporting success we’ll take it where we can find it.

  7. 7
    SteveM on 30 Jun 2009 #

    Precisely. You’ve lived in the UK too long Tracer, picking up the ‘knock ’em down’ attitude in fine style.

  8. 8
    Martin Skidmore on 30 Jun 2009 #

    Come on people, get your nationalities right. Andy Murray is British at the moment, not Scottish. He becomes Scottish as soon as he loses. These are simple English rules for potential sporting successes, and we should all follow them.

  9. 9
    Pete on 1 Jul 2009 #

    Ah it was my birthday twin Geoff Rusedski who had the whiny voice. Oh well, we get to do it all again today!

  10. 10
    lex on 1 Jul 2009 #

    I’m increasingly worried about my support of Murray – I’m concerned that people might think that it’s to do with his nationality when I really just love his varied, tactical game. I don’t find his personality unappealing at all – he’s mopey, taciturn and kind of surly but that just seems like his natural demeanour and rarely extends to actually being a dick (eg Roddick, Hewitt) or disrespecting his opponent. Far rather that than Sharapova’s fakey-fake corporate charm or the way Clijsters was so keen to create her St Kim of Niceness role (because she could never beat the less gregarious, less “likeable” Henin). I’m always suspicious of the “likeability” argument w/r/t public figures anyway for various reasons – 1) “likeability” seems to encompass only a v narrow range of personality traits, 2) it doesn’t leave room for complexities of character, 3) we don’t actually know these people anyway.

    That said I’m perfectly happy for Murray to continue being the dislikeable Scot to Daily Mail readers as it hopefully means we won’t get anything like the intolerable Timbledon bullshit that I used to have to endure. Though given the idiots in the crowd the other night I’m not hopeful – I do want Murray to win a Slam, b/c he’s absolutely that talented. But not Wimbledon.

    (Oh yeah, I also find it funny when people who pay attention to tennis for a fortnight every year start opining about how he cracks under pressure and won’t be good enough to win Wimbledon. He may well lose to Federer in the final but unless it’s an outright Novotna-style choke, that isn’t necessarily cracking under pressure – if that match-up happens it’s 50/50 for me.)

  11. 11
    lex on 1 Jul 2009 #

    ‘but how would Michael Jackson’s family feel about that double fault’

    heh, 3/4 of Serena’s interview that day was about MJ. She spent much of it rhapsodising about how iconic he was and how much he meant to her, and then she couldn’t remember the name of her favourite song by him. Oh, Silliams.

  12. 12
    Emma on 1 Jul 2009 #

    i agree, i really dislike him.
    he has a strange attitude and, yes – he plays well, but he shows no personality in interviews and comes accross as a huge drip!
    i am scottish and am ashamed that he is representing us. he has talent, but i would never call him a role model. i would much rather be less successful but have charm, personality and a likability factor
    whilst he has improved with his attitude and is SLIGHTLY less aggressive on court (with his screwed up face) i still look at him and feel embarassed.
    laura robson, although not as succesful yet, is already much better in representing the sport as well as her people. she will be a far better role model
    he got the kind of face you could slap. he always look miserable – even when he won queens (when pictures were taken he barely smiled)

    im not saying he plays badly at all – i just wish he was likeable….

    BRING BACK TIM HENMAN!!!!!!!!

  13. 13
    xyzzzz__ on 1 Jul 2009 #

    “BRING BACK TIM HENMAN!!!!!!!!”

    No thanks — time for some ugly slam wins.

    He will be for Tennis what Nick Faldo was for Golf. Should a win a few slams, but few friends.

  14. 14
    Matt DC on 1 Jul 2009 #

    All the best sportspeople are moody, pissy and surly. I am 50:50 on fist-pumping though.

  15. 15
    AndyPandy on 1 Jul 2009 #

    lex @10: but its not particularly the Daily Mail types who don’t like him (actually I think a lot of those are the types who give him the benefit of the doubt and get behind him “because he’s British”-just look at the Wimbledon crowd)as far as I’m hearing on my work-related travels round West Yorkshire its the average person in the street (if they think about Tennis at all) who think he’s got a particularly unappealing (lack of ) personality and so dislike him.
    and you can also see this by going on certain Football club sites and see ther slagging he’s getting – and the posters on those are about as far from your Daily Mail types as it gets

    And I should imagine a lot of the dislike is also because he slagged England off …Oh and because he’s a whingeing Jock ;-)

  16. 16
    lex on 1 Jul 2009 #

    Oh yes, I do see a lot of comments which can’t get over one light-hearted comment made years ago when he was a teenager. I must say I don’t understand that mindset at all, and am glad not to.

    I just used “Daily Mail types” b/c I went by the comment boxes on that website – but my main point is that “particularly unappealing (lack of) personality” is a pretty meaningless phrase, and often seems to be shorthand for people who are less demonstrative, less cheerful, more standoffish or reserved and who don’t play to the crowd. I don’t see why this isn’t a valid personality to have!

    Also, half the time “having a personality” = “being an asshole”. Yes, I’m watching Roddick and Hewitt right now. Both “personalities” but I’ll take Murray’s surliness over Roddick constantly abusing umpires and line judges and disrespecting opponents, and Hewitt’s vulgarity and racism.

  17. 17
    Pete Baran on 1 Jul 2009 #

    I guess my problem with tennis is that it is an individual sport. I am all about team sports, the dynamic of team games are intrinsically interesting to an extrovert like meself. I just don’t really care about the prowess of an individual, I am a socialised human being. I know that sportsmen being on the autistic spectrum and training all the time are unlikely to be engaging individuals, and prone to saying stupid things. But in team sports this is overseen by a charismatic manager, or some kind of corporate view of how the club is. Andy Murray has the kind of personality any Britsih (Scottish (Gordon Brownish) ) individual might have. Media training came a solid last to, you know, tennis training. And it merely reflects on Tennis Being Rubbish, not just that Murray is a dishwater sulker.

  18. 18
    Jo Wilfred on 1 Jul 2009 #

    re: Baran, in team sports like you mention the individuals are prone to be drones, puppets on a string, servants to a master. In tennis, an individual and highly tactical, strategic sport, the players are out there on their own, and have to use their intellect and insight into the game. That’s the beauty of these grand slams, inbetween the games and sets when the players are sat at the side with a towel on their head, you know they’re analyzing what’s happened, thinking furiously of what to do, how to break the other player’s rhythm, how to make their own game disrupt the opponent’s. It becomes a game of chess and it’s why, to me, it’s so much easier to appreciate a great tennis player than a great athlete in so many other sports, team sports being an easy example.

  19. 19
    xyzzzz__ on 2 Jul 2009 #

    “I just don’t really care about the prowess of an individual, I am a socialised human being.”

    Behind the individual there is a support team of coaches, family support, physios. Behind any solo artist there is a list of collaborators and producers, or behind a composer there are collaborations with players and funding organizations. Visual artists need galleries and space, and so on and on.

    ‘Individuals’ we never get to hear about…

  20. 20
    Pete Baran on 2 Jul 2009 #

    Which makes it all the more selfish that Andy Murray is the person who will win Wimbledon, Usain Bolt is the fastest man on earth. Of course other people are involved, other people are involved behind the scenes in team games, but what I am watching in team sports is that kind of interaction made flesh. It is a clear and declared aspect of the sport. It also means there is something which has life beyond the career of an individual. I am a Barnet fan, and watched Barnet in the 1980’s and sometimes watch them now. They have completely different individuals in them, but they are the same team.

  21. 21
    lex on 2 Jul 2009 #

    The reason I can’t take team sports seriously is that the involvement of other people has the effect of either carrying mediocre talent or stifling/not rewarding individual talent (eg a gifted footballer from a country w/no others on his level will never win the World Cup). With individual sports, all the “team” does is prepare the player – they have to go out there to execute their game by themselves. No help, no relying on anyone else. It’s a more pure demonstration of talent (which is found in individuals, not collectives).

    And in terms of supporting sportsmen – I cheer on my favourite tennis players b/c of their individual qualities. Presumably in football one is more attracted to certain players’ styles or personalities – so I just can’t comprehend loyalty to a club, which at any given time may or may not have players you even enjoy watching in it. I mean, the club can hardly have specific qualities of its own if its roster is always changing!

  22. 22
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 2 Jul 2009 #

    there is no ayn rand in team!

    “talent (which is found in individuals, not collectives” = would only be true if the individual never actually played anyone else — even if you consider a match between two solo people JUST a match between the two yr watching (which it never is), it’s still the fact that the talent of one emerges only in response to the other… talent emerges from the “collective of two” who are performing together

    there is no more interesting aspect of the team-play that openly structures itself as teamplay (as opposed to the teamplay which disguises itself as not-teamplay: viz tennis) than the role of people who don’t “seem to be doing anything” BUT ARE ACTUALLY INDISPENSIBLE (this is called the JULIA LENNON THEORY)

  23. 23
    Tom on 2 Jul 2009 #

    It can, though – if the club is associated with a particular style of play then it will look for players who can use that style effectively. One of the few really interesting things to come out of football’s 00s economic bubble has been the demonstration of individual vs team talent: several club owners have tried to build teams out of the best available individuals and it hasn’t worked, or at least not for long.

    The gifted footballer from a no-hoper country won’t win the World Cup but will quite possibly win a lot of things for their club. (eg Ryan Giggs) (just to make sure this post gets Welsh ppl cross as well as Scots)

    Team sports allow a lot more nuance in terms of talent: the individual genius can carry a team or make a difference in a game, but the team allows a lot of different positive traits to be rewarded. Someone who is brilliant at one particular thing can be accomodated.

  24. 24
    Pete Baran on 2 Jul 2009 #

    I am almost certain that the above discussion could easily be extrapolated into political manifestos / worldviews. Its the great man theory vs the inexorable march of progress. And yes, I would happily admit I find the concept of individual talent troublesome.

  25. 25
    xyzzzz__ on 2 Jul 2009 #

    “Which makes it all the more selfish that Andy Murray is the person who will win Wimbledon, Usain Bolt is the fastest man on earth. Of course other people are involved, other people are involved behind the scenes in team games, but what I am watching in team sports is that kind of interaction made flesh.”

    I didn’t really make the distinction between teams and individuals before (I like many many sports), but it appears to me that you really object to the narrative which the coverage of individual sport provokes.

    Surely cricket complicates the picture: a team sport, undoubtedly, but with two central figures (batsmen against bowler) battling out in the middle.

    “It is a clear and declared aspect of the sport. It also means there is something which has life beyond the career of an individual.I am a Barnet fan, and watched Barnet in the 1980’s and sometimes watch them now. They have completely different individuals in them, but they are the same team.”

    Similarly, what’s important about Wimbledon is the Tennis and competition and the battle. The individual will move on once he/she retires, but the competition will go on.

    You can flip the the above on its head for teams: there is always one individual that often stands out, in any team, and you’ll go to see the team with different individuals and think you often wish you were watching that individual. It happens when I sometimes watch Arsenal and see that Dennis Bergkamp isn’t there.

    Additionally, teams are fondly thought of as if they were a single person (Hungary in ’54).

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