I got up at 5:00 am (well, nearly) this morning to watch Andy Murray at the French Open. Getting up early to watch Andy Murray is like getting up early to have a bricklayer apply cement to your eyelids. The guy is just not enlivening. He looks sluggish and unhappy at the best of times; his game face is one of unalloyed woe. I try not to mind this; I’m a fan, so I look past it. I see other things – I know he has a warm heart and is a good guy and he’s also as gorgeous as a Ken doll, though he doesn’t seem to notice or enjoy it.
Today as my TV warmed into life I heard Pat McEnroe saying Andy’s attitude was lousy – a familiar refrain – and that he, Pat McEnroe, thought it was poor sportsmanship to complain so much and act injured. Oh crap, I thought. What a mess the match must be. What a tragic hole Murray must be in. Too bad I had the slovenly laziness to miss the opening – I’d probably missed all kinds of drama – then I saw the score was 3-0, first set.
3-0!? What was the big freaking deal? A doomed aura surrounds this guy, so potent that going down 3 games to love in the opening set of a five-set match was enough to set everyone off into knells of ruin. Pat McEnroe was disgusted. Andy looked like a wax-dummy version of himself (cue the already-was-a-wax-dummy jokes!). I had wasted my early rising since it was obvious Murray was about 30 seconds away from retiring. His back was hurting – he couldn’t serve – everything was hopeless.
Bleah, I thought. It really is a drag being a fan of this guy. He seems on a downward slide. He’s not triumphing over his negativity. Ivan Lendl, his new coach, hasn’t had the Midas touch. Everything is hopeless, hopeless!
Despite his back, Murray kept playing. He was patient, careful. Niemenen, his opponent, might have been unstrung by Murray’s situation – he may have gone a bit easy on Andy while the Scot was polka-ing around the court like an anguished giraffe, and having lost his edge, he went off the boil. That’s my game analysis. Because somehow, mysteriously, Niemenen fell to pieces. And Murray gathered whatever remnants of ability he had and made the most of them.
At a point near the end, Murray suddenly scowled, dropped his head, put his face in his hand, and scuffed dejectedly toward the net. Aw, I thought. I guess he lost. It turns out he had just won. That’s him winning? I marveled. In his presser, Murray said quietly that he hadn’t felt good at the end, but rather, emotional. His honest acknowledgment of his feelings had a low-key dignity that reminded me why I like him – why I do get up at 5 am to watch him, and keep hoping for him, keep hoping.