When Roger Federer questioned some bookmakers’ decision to make Andy Murray favourite for the Australian Open, reaction from certain sections of the media suggested that the Swiss player had just called for Bruce Forsyth to be put down.
The 13-time grand slam champion’s honest but fair words, however, merely served as a timely reality check for the British press. Despite only reaching one ‘slam’ final, Murray had been touted as a favourite for this month’s tournament but his fourth-round defeat to Fernando Verdasco showed that there is still work to do.
Murray, after all, has never won a grand slam and remains behind Rafael Nadal, Federer and Novak Djokovic in the rankings. Federer acknowledged the improvement in Murray’s game but warned, “Winning a grand slam is a different animal."
Sky Sports News’ Vicky Gomersall wandered aloud if it was a “case of sour grapes” from Federer but, in truth, it was merely an honest appraisal of a good tennis player, who has yet to reach the same level of consistent excellence as his aforementioned peers.
Gomersall’s thoughts highlighted the British media’s inability to accept a truth that may inconveniently differ from their biased views, and Murray’s is not a solitary case.
Backed by vociferous support from fans and press, Ricky Hatton could have been forgiven for thinking that his defeat to Floyd Mayweather Jr was a result of dodgy refereeing. However questionable some of Joe Cortez’s decisions may have been, though, Hatton was simply outclassed.
Likewise, England’s recent exits at football’s major championships have been blamed on Urs Meier (the referee who tabloids called a “Swiss Banker” – he is in fact a grocer) and Cristiano Ronaldo. In both cases, their own players’ underachievement has gone unnoticed.
Murray’s response was, in stark contrast, both candid and measured. “Sometimes you have to suck it up and admit he was too good.”
He may not be the most charming or eloquent man ever to grace a tennis court but the Scot has constantly reiterated that goals he sets himself are realistic. Despite the unrelenting expectation, Murray has maintained a patient philosophy; that his time, his chance to win a grand slam, will come.
As written for Leeds Student, 30/01/09