Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Little Shot of a Scot with Whiskers

Fred Perry
Greenwich Mean Time occurs a wee-bit downriver from Wimbledon’s Centre Court, and July 7 at 17:54 Zulu (as GMT is known) Great Britain, the U.K., and Scotland finally had a men’s lawn tennis champion, Andy Murray. For England itself, technically, it’s still 77 years and counting, but, cheerio and hip-hip, after Sunday’s final and a heart-thumping three straight championship points served and lost at 40-love, let’s just forget about that, shall we, Old Beans?

This was not exactly an epic, like Murray’s opponent Novak Djokovic’s nearly five-hour- long semi-final against Juan MartĂ­n del Potro. Actually, the shadow of that earlier match may have been the only one showing on court Sunday, and at Djokovic’s expense. He simply looked wasted by the third set, and though he made a valiant try, assisted by Murray’s understandable sudden case of nerves, he just didn’t seem to get it going.

Nobody on Henman Hill, named for Britain’s previous best hope to end the gold-cup drought, is likely to remember the horrific thoughts developing in their minds as Murray struggled to get a first serve in during that penultimate game, as his knees seemed to be made of Dundee Marmalade. A net-cord appeared to reach up (assisted by Fred Perry’s ghost?) and save the day, holding back what looked like a winner down the line off Djokovic’s racquet. Then, what passes for pandemonium ensued in dainty Wimbledon.

But, what I want to know in this Age of Kim K, is why doesn’t Andy’s mum ever sit near the other Kim, the much, much better Kim, Andy’s camera friendly girlfriend, Kim Sears. What’s up with that? If they got along better and sat next to each other maybe Andy could have stopped that string at 76 years or even less! Talk about stress: a domestic freeze in front of millions of fans.

Kim Sears
Andy of Mayberry Murray is not, always looking on court as if he is losing, no matter what the score. Perhaps that is just the understated Scot’s way, or the weather up north, or just years of losing the “big ones.” That ended after Ivan Lendl, no stranger to the frown himself, took over as Coach of Andy; so far the tandem has produced two major championships and brought an empire to its knees and maybe its endorsement purse as well. Imagine the Murray brand if he could smile! Well, that might look a lot like…Kim Sears. Did we mention her already? I think so.

So, on we go to the U.S. Open in late August, where the U.S. has begun a run of its own, nine years without a men’s champion (Roddick, 2003). That’s the second longest drought for American men; it took twelve years and the beginning of the open era for Arthur Ashe to succeed Tony Trabert in 1968.

Thanks to the Williams sisters, and Martina adopting our country as her home, American women have experienced only one extended stretch, 1988-1997, without a winner. And, they appear poised to offer up a winner other than Serena before the men offer their own, barring truly profound miracles. After all, a British man has won more U.S. men’s titles than Americans in recent years: one, Andy Murray himself, in 2012. Not to mention a Swiss, a Serbian, a Spaniard, etcetera.

I’ll be there on opening day, having logged over fifty combined U.S. Nationals (“amateur”) and Opens at Forest Hills and Flushing Meadow. There is little likelihood that I will venture into Ashe Stadium, since, in the early rounds, it offers pretty dull stuff. Instead, I’ll be wandering the field courts, as I did once at Wimbledon (2006), looking for a tense battle between the number 115th and 162nd ranked men or women.

Merion: angina anyone?

If I close my eyes and just listen to the pop-pop from the racuets, I can pretend it’s still happening on our own soft lawns, public lawns to be sure; the mere mention of “private club” might cause USTA and ESPN poobahs major angina.

If Andy Murray can finally succeed, who’s to say we can never have a lawn tennis championship again?

Not I.

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