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What the papers say

Andy Murray on Centre Court
by Clive White
Sunday 6 July 2014

All kinds of reasons have been put forward by the media for Andy Murray’s defeat to an exceptionally good player in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon, from unrest within his team to poor footwork. Patrick Collins in the Mail on Sunday thought that the reaction “carried the whiff of an epitaph” which he struggled to understand.

There was the added “disgrace” that he “hadn’t behaved terribly well,” says Collins, referring to the alleged profanities from the defending champion, which were apparently aimed at his box on Centre Court.

“Murray is the week’s designated whipping boy, and as such he could expect no mercy,” writes Collins. “In fact, he behaved with genuine dignity in the aftermath of his loss...And he carries the burden pretty well. He faces the questions, tells his tale and asks to be judged by his performances on court. He is not the most avid attention-seeker in his sport; indeed, he may not be the most avid in his own family. But he goes about his work with scrupulous diligence, he wins with grace and loses without recourse to trite excuse.”

Collins adds: “Yet he is still not fully accepted. He is too intense, too chippy, simply too Scottish for the Home Counties crowd which sits in judgment on such matters. There is a suspicion that Wimbledon has never really forgiven him for not being Tim Henman.”

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Eugenie Bouchard’s emphatic defeat at the hands of Petra Kvitova in the final of the Ladies’ Singles took many people by surprise, probably including herself. Writes Oliver Brown in the Sunday Telegraph: “This was meant to be her grandest day, her first time receiving the traditional super-sized bouquet, her senior prom after winning the junior championship here two summers ago. Instead, in the brief weather delay that prefaced her platitudes with the dignitaries, she spent the time alone in the engraver’s room reflecting upon how it had all unravelled so fast.

“In the circumstances, it seemed a touch cruel to direct the loser to a place where she had to watch her adversary’s name being inscribed in gilt. ‘It was a little odd,’ Bouchard said. ‘I sat down, put my jacket on, and just reflected. I was looking at the engraver work, wishing and dreaming that one day he will write my name somewhere’.”

Tim Lewis, of The Guardian, thought that Kvitova looked completely at home on the lawns of SW19. “Grass is a surface that should be Kvitova’s backyard,” he writes. “Her equivalent of Mickelson’s lob wedge is her thunderous, versatile serve that can typically be relied on to extricate her from whatever hole she lands herself in. A wondrous thing it is, too. In this tournament, she posted 42 aces and no player delivered more unreturned bombs. As she showed against Bouchard, she can carve it wide or swing it into the body. But mostly she smites it accurately and with the might of an angry god.”

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Boris Becker, the coach of Novak Djokovic, spoke of the need for players to reinvent themselves “more often that hospital superbugs”, writes Simon Briggs, of the Sunday Telegraph. “If you started winning at 21 with a certain game plan, players start to read your game and start to adapt to your strengths,” he told Briggs. “Therefore you have to evolve every year, every 18 months – there has to be a new angle to your game, without losing your strengths...I think Novak today is a different player than he was five years ago. And so is Roger [Federer]. The fact that he changed rackets, that he’s got Stefan Edberg on his side, speaks volumes.”

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The legendary Australian, Rod Laver, is many people’s favourite player, including John McEnroe, Roger Federer and Pete Sampras. As for the man himself, he idolised fellow Australian Lew Hoad. Apparently, Hoad welcomed Laver to the ranks [of the professionals] by beating him eight times in a row. Nick Pitt, of The Sunday Times, quotes Rocket Rod as saying: “He beat me to pieces. I had a weak second serve so I had to speed it up... He had lapses and in the amateurs he sometimes used to get beaten in the first round. But if he cared, you weren’t going to beat him.”

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Maartina Navratilova, the nine-time Wimbledon single champion, has questioned the legitimacy of Serena Williams’s excuse for pulling out of a doubles match with her sister Venus at this Wimbledon, citing a bug or viral illness. A diary story in The Sunday Times reads: “After hearing of Williams’s comments, Navratilova said on ESPN that she should not have been playing in the first place. ‘I find it distressing,’ she said. ‘Whatever they’re saying it was, I don’t think it was a virus. I’ve never seen anything like it. Everybody was put in a difficult position, including the WTA. It’s not right. It defies logic on so many fronts’.”

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The on-site hairdressers at Wimbledon is used by many players but by some more than others, apparently. Stuart Fraser, in the Mail on Sunday, says that Novak Djokovic has been a frequent visitor for “quick trims in what is believed to be a ritual. Djokovic has not gone as far, though, as one unnamed male member of his team who enjoyed a manicure at the popular nail bar.”

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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."

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