The fact that Andy Murray won Wimbledon is neither strange nor unexpected – he’s a farking good player and for whatever reason Novak Djokovic just couldn’t live with him on the day.
No, what’s surprising is how many people are starting to like him all of a sudden. And I don’t just mean sympathy – all the pressure, all the near misses – I mean people, myself included, are actually starting to think he’s a decent guy.
He still struggles a little bit with smiling, still seems to complain quite a lot and still has that irritating mother. But we’re liking him a bit more now and I want to know why.
Heroes need villains
The same thing happened with Nadal – he burst onto the scene, destroyed Federer’s tennis paradise, and we called him brash and arrogant. Because Federer was our hero, and a hero needs a villain. We want the guy we like to win even more if it’s against a guy we hate.
So Nadal was the bad guy for a few years, until he kept winning and we got to know him a bit better and we realised he was actually pretty cool. Sh1t.
So then Djokovic became the villain for a short time while we didn’t like how robotic he was, or how crazy he could sometimes be. Although his calculated racquet smashing is sublime.
But then he started winning and doing funny impressions and goddammit this guy is cool too.
Then came Andy Murray
He was always down, and when he was down he was complaining. And the English media couldn’t decide if he was Scottish (when he lost) or British (when he won). And every now and then he’d beat one of the top guys but mostly he still lost and we liked that the best.
Sour and surly and Scottish, with an ever-present mother who has all the charm and actually physically reminds me of a copper scouring pad.
But then he cried at Wimbledon in 2012, bounced right back to win the Olympic final a month later, won the US Open, won Wimbledon (yay for Britain!), and now we see him for the fairytale princess that he truly is.
My name is Andrew, and I like Andy Murray. Admitting it is the first and hardest step.
Where’s our next villain coming from?
The next best players are Ferrer, Del Potro, Berdych and Tsonga, but they’re all likeable.
Jerzy Janowicz has potential, both tennis and villainous, and after being labelled ‘Baby Federer’ Grigor Dimitrov has started to come across as spoiled and sour (plus he’s banging Sharapova). That Tomic kid is a bit of a pr1ck, but not a worthy adversary on the court.
Of course there’s always the chance Nadal could become grumpy in his injured, old age. Or Djokovic could take being usurped badly. Or in classic Hollywood fashion, Federer himself could turn to the dark side.
It’s an exciting time for tennis, especially if you’re a young up-and-coming player who’s prepared to be the bad guy for a while. But for now, we all have to come to terms with liking Andy Murray and not feeling weird about it.