Scaling a mountain that one has already conquered may sound like a less than inspiring adventure, but it never proved a problem for Roger Federer nor any of those champions who won their country’s own grand slam and then did so again and, in some cases, again and again.
Andy Murray’s quest to replicate their achievements started with more of a gentle hike in walking shoes than a full-on attack of a sheer face with crampons. There was never a chance of a fall as he opened the defence of his singles title at Wimbledon with a straightforward, straight sets defeat of the talented but lightweight David Goffin, of Belgium.
Simon Barnes, of The Times, thought the answer to the problem of repeating heroics lay in personal reinvention. “In a way, dealing with ultimate triumph is a bit like dealing with a devastating loss – in the sense that life has to carry on but it can only really do so if you start it all over again,” he wrote. “It’s the sort of thing that people do after a bereavement, after bankruptcy, after a breakdown, after giving up drink for drugs.”
The British public got its first glimpse of Murray in harness with his new coach, Amelie Mauresmo, and Barnes described it thus: “Re-invented, re-launched, re-bored, re-aimed, re-thought. He lost the massive, brooding presence of [Ivan] Lendl in his box. He’s got a new back, one he can trust for a tournament, one that means he no longer has to play in pain. He’s re-finding strength and rhythm in a body that has been recharged. He’s younger than he was last year. And he has a new coach.”
Oliver Brown, of the Daily Telegraph, said his young opponent was of “such cherubic blondness that one wondered if The Adventures of Tintin had just been replanted to Centre Court.” Murray’s next opponent, a Slovenian called Blaz Rola only entered the top 200 last October. He was looking forward to his first Centre Court experience, with a couple of provisos: “Hopefully, I don’t poop my pants and play well,” Simon Briggs reported him as saying in the same paper.
Questions about the World Cup continue to proliferate at press conferences at the All England Club, many of them leading ones in the case of Andy Murray. Some of the more hard-nosed news journalists well remember his jest of “anyone but England” when asked who he wanted to win a major championship a few years back. In his post-match press conference he was asked if he felt he was giving British fans something to cheer about after England’s early elimination in Brazil.
Murray replied as smartly as he did to any problem presented by David Goffin in his opening Centre Court match: “I don’t think the English football team get asked about me. I’ve yet to hear Wayne Rooney talk about my matches at Wimbledon.”
Naomi Broady, Britain’s only other winner on the opening day, has not received any funding from the Lawn Tennis Association since she was disciplined by them for posting slightly provocative pictures of herself on a social networking site seven years ago. It does not appear to have done her much harm; on the contrary, it may even have helped her as she seemed to suggest after her defeat of Hungary’s Timea Babos, a player ranked 71 spots above her.
“It’s definitely made me hungrier,” Simon Briggs in the Daily Telegraph reported her as saying. “If I don’t win, I don’t have any money.”
Briggs supplied supporting evidence to back up this theory from Judy Murray, Britain’s Fed Cup captain, even if, in her case, she sometimes struggled to get the right kind of financial support from the LTA for her son. “If we had less money we would probably make smarter decisions,” Briggs quoted her as saying.
Nick Bollettieri, the American coach, in his column in The Independent, has some advice for one of his protégés playing this afternoon, Kei Nishikori, of Japan, who faces the 6ft 8in Frenchman Kenny de Schepper, who has a fairly intimidating serve: “Andre Agassi always used to say, when you come up against a big server you have to give it one hell of a swing.”
He also had a word of advice for Grigor Dimitrov, who, he said, according to the former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek, was not yet quite ready for major honours.
“Dimitrov has a lot of the ingredients that make up a damn good player, but if I could offer him one piece of advice it would be never to show negative emotion on court.”
20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...
20:03"I already have seven. It's not like I need another one. But it would have been awfully nice to have it. I think that's what the feeling was of the people, and I felt that... I know they love tennis. They love tennis after we're all gone."View all