The Other Andy
I’m an Andy Roddick fan, as this link to a fan chat with Steve Tignor will attest http://tinyurl.com/7lkp43c. (Actually, no it won't, because I can't get the link to work -- sorry. If you have, like, eight days on your hands, you could copy and paste it.) I said plenty about Roddick on Steve’s blog, Concrete Elbow, but believe it or not I have several unfinished essays in my laptop that explore still more aspects about him – like seeing his career as an analogy with America’s fading popularity during the Iraq war years; a discussion of his emblemizing the stoic American male persona epitomized by Gary Cooper and the wiseass American male persona epitomized by Jack Nicholson and others; and an extremely strained parallel with my love life which is best not gone into.
But there is another Andy, one I started to root for because he seemed more consistently in the mix than my Andy. (Not that I’ve chosen Murray over Roddick – I’m a fan of both but Roddick primarily.) Andy Murray is another person I inexplicably care about the fortunes of, and I don’t want to analyze why right now (I’m exhausted from that recap of my Roddick analysis). I’m just saying if you need an Andy, he’ll do.
But he just lost, in Monte Carlo, to Tomas Berdych, a guy I dislike because he can perform upsets like this with great panache, and then fade completely in the next round. The upset feels so familiar – the tennis chat world immediately groans “oh, Murray, what else is new?” Murray, we’ve all decided recently, is just a loser – someone without enough a) grit, b) self-belief, c) killer instinct, d) a forehand, e) positive attitude, f) luck, g) etc. And on and on!
It’s a shock to look up his record and be reminded he’s gotten to the finals of many recent tournaments – Miami, just recently, where Djokovic beat him in straight sets. Still, he was in the final, and in Dubai he was too, to be beaten by Federer, but, ya know – the final, Federer. That’s not too shabby.
Is there another player to have so many decent showings in tournaments and still be tagged a loser? And how much of this is a self-fulfilling prophecy? Murray suffers from the weight of expectations put on him by his fellow Britons coupled with their scathing mockery when he goes down in flames. (At least, in the Daily Mail – the Guardian is more fair.)
It’s been occurring to me that the reason the pressure on Murray is so great is that he’s the only tennis player – there are no other British players of note. At least in the U.S. we have a roster of players to cheer for, or despair about. With Murray, it’s on his shoulders and his alone. His slogan should be: “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Tennis Player.” That should cheer him up!