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What the papers say

Andy Murray speaks to the press
by Clive White
Thursday 3 July 2014

The media was desperately searching for reasons why Andy Murray capitulated in the defence of his title on Wednesday. A variety of reasons were put forward: lack of form, his fitness and strength after back surgery, complacency, his new coach. Simon Barnes, of The Times, said he knew what, or rather who, was to blame: Rafael Nadal.

“I know he is probably already on the beach by now,” wrote Barnes of the already departed No.2 seed, “but he was the prime mover in Murray’s downfall. It’s something that can happen at any tournament, but more likely to happen at Wimbledon.

“It’s called the Phenomenon of the Infectious Upset. When one upset happens, it tends to bring more. When Nick Kyrgios beat Nadal on Tuesday, it sent a series of electric shocks through the men’s tournament. The underdogs thought if Kyrgios can do that, what might I do?  And the top men in the tournament felt that little stab of doubt: if it can happen to Rafa, it can happen to me.”

Matthew Engel, of the Financial Times, was more in praise of Murray’s victor Grigor Dimitrov. He wrote: “Dimitrov looked a heck of an athlete as well as a shot-maker. Not many of the faithful on Henman Hill could name three famous Bulgarians (though a canny respondent might mention the three Maleeva sisters who were decent players a generation ago). Well, this one might turn out to be a fine ambassador for a country that has been short of them.

“Murray did not rage on court, as he might once have done. His mother Judy, however, wore the expression of a woman whose child had just mangled his only line in the Nativity play.”

Oliver Brown, in the Daily Telegraph, thought the Americans loved Dimitrov even if few on Centre Court seemed to. “Granted, there were few wearing ‘I love Grigor’ T-shorts among the Centre Court crowd, as he dealt out a deserved thrashing to a lethargic Andy Murray, but any 23-year-old who serves at over 130 mph, boasts a backhand slice to die for, calls Los Angeles home, dates Maria Sharapova and has US television networks acclaiming him as the best thing since Andy Roddick would appear assured of a prosperous future.”

Mike Dickson, of the Daily Mail, obviously with hindsight, could see this lame submission from Murray coming. “In the past four [Grand Slams] he has played well and then bombed without warning. Those defeats came against Stan Wawrinka at the US Open, Roger Federer in Australia, Rafael Nadal in Paris and now Dimitrov. Losing to any of them is no disgrace, but there has been a concerning element of acceptance each time.”

Neil Harman, of The Times, had a word of advice for Murray as to how he might get over this shocking reverse. “Have a holiday, young Andy. Take a break. Go to your hotel in Scotland , book the presidential suite (it’s free), sample the kippers, pop round to your grandparents’ home for some of Minnie’s famous shortbread. Play a bit of golf. Chill. The practice court? Bugger that.”

The Daily Mail reported John McEnroe expressing his surprise on BBC television that Murray and his former coach Ivan Lendl ever split and suggested that perhaps they should get back together. “I’m amazed he got rid of Lendl,” said McEnroe. “I wouldn’t put it past the two of them [to reunite]. For the champion not have Ivan back, almost from a superstitious standpoint you would keep the team the same.”


It was seen as sour grapes by some when Rafael Nadal declined to jump on the bandwagon that was feting Nick Kyrgios as the next big thing in tennis, but after the 19-year-old Australian lost to Milos Raonic he may have had a point. As Rick Broadbent wrote in The Times: “The hard thing about breaking through is keeping on. Australian has hailed Kyrgios as ‘the rock star’ and, as such, this was his difficult second album... Kyrgios growled and roared, and even swore. Raonic was just unflashy, with one arm covered and one bare. It was bad ass versus badly dressed.”

The fans, though, have clearly taken Kyrgios to their hearts, as Jonathan Liew reported in the Daily Telegraph. “Wimbledon crowds give their affection as impetuously as teenagers. Pretty much as soon as they clapped eyes on Pat Cash, they decided they loved him. So too Andre Agassi, Martina Hingis and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. And so it has proved again with Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, who despite losing in four sets to Milos Raonic departed to such a rapturous reception that he may as well have been Justin Bieber with a tennis racket.”


Oliver Brown, in the Daily Telegraph, was not alone in thinking that Roger Federer was once again a Grand Slam contender. “At the age of 32 and with his priority rearranged by the birth of two sets of twins, Federer’s slam-winning years might be waning, but after the shock exits of Rafael Nadal and reigning champion Andy Murray, he remains a prime contender to claim a record eighth Wimbledon title come Sunday, surpassing Pete Sampras and the late William Renshaw.

Alyson Rudd, in The Times, found the all-Swiss match-up on Centre Court between Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka an odd one.  She wrote: “To be Swiss and on a grass-court mission means that you are Roger Federer, but here was the great man facing not just any old competitor from Switzerland, but the Swiss No.1. Very peculiar indeed. It was entirely acceptable for Federer to have entered the tournament as No.4 seed, but barely conceivable that he arrived as not even the best player in Switzerland.”


Jonathan Liew, of the Daily Telegraph, was amused by Novak Djokovic’s complaint about the noise from Henman Hill during his quarter-final against Marin Cilic. “The whoops and wails coming from nearby Henman Hill from those watching Andy Murray were distracting him so much he complained to umpire Mohamed Al Jannati, as if expecting him to go out and tell them to be quiet. But as he then reported, that was not what Djokovic was asking the umpire to do. ‘I said to the chair umpire, let’s just stop the match, put it live on the big screen, and let’s watch it till they’re done,’ said Djokovic.


Mike Dickson, in the Daily Mail, does not seem completely to accept the reasons for Serena Williams’s withdrawal from her doubles match on Tuesday, which was said to be because of a “viral illness”. He repeated a quote from Isha Price, Williams’s half-sister, in a story in the newspaper USA Today, which reported Price as saying: “She seemed emotional, sad, you know what I mean? Dickson added: “The reaction of her sister Venus during the incident was interesting. The two are incredibly close yet she did not seem massively concerned for her sibling’s well-being, looking instead bemused and frustrated. As one medical source said, the bug she described would have made her feel ill but not affected her coordination in such a way that was evident.”

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