Mint condition Murray sings a Tsonga sixpence

Sport

Joel Stockton

A victorious Andy Murray certainly did not disappoint the punters who got their hands on cheap tickets for Monday’s rearranged AEGON Championship Final at Queen’s Club following Sunday’s wash-out.

His victory will also have brought smiles to the faces of those unfortunate fans in gainful employment, denied their strawberries and cream in the sunshine and instead forced to snatch snippets of play between power-point presentations and sales forecasts.  Yet for any finalist finished with exams, it was the perfect post-lunch digestif.

However, Murray got off to an inauspicious start, with his French opponent Jo Wilfried Tsonga taking the first set 6-3.  Murray once again demonstrating his innately British ability for the monster cock-up at the wrong time.  Tsonga’s service was formidable, on one occasion pulling out a blistering 130 mph second serve. At times the Frenchman’s athleticism was a sight to behold, diving around the court as if he were looking for a call-up from Laurent Blanc, and dispatching towering overhead smashes at will.  More of this panache at Wimbledon please, Mr Tsonga.

Indeed Tsonga almost won this game in straight sets, and had he done so would have thoroughly deserved it, for he was easily the better player before the second set tie-break. Murray failed to break the Frenchman’s serve until the tenth attempt during the third set, but a strong performance in the tie-break allowed him to level the game at one set apiece.

It was only when the sun came out that Murray began to shine.  One hesitates to think that if the Scot had grown up in a sunnier part of the world, he’d have made it to that elusive World Number 1 slot by now. Murray cruised to victory in the final set, furnishing his game with impertinent trick-shots, his normally dour face hosting on this occasion a cheeky smile.

If anything his crowd-pleasing antics further confuses the debate over Murray’s contested nationality. It was not the behaviour one would expect from a miserable Scot or earnest Brit.  No-one likes that shot through the legs in Fife.  Murray should have battled through turgidly, cagily waiting for his more famously adventurous opponent to make a mistake.  Rather it was showboating worthy of the Continent, but in the end the bona fide Frenchman opposite had no reply.  Despite this victory for Murray, the great British public should not expect anything special from Murray at Wimbledon.  One has to fear that, having raised the expectations of the nation, Murray will be a very British disappointment.

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