Mike Dickson: Why British fans should always back Murray... even against His Rogerness
In a global survey of 50,000 people last year, Roger Federer emerged as the world’s second most trusted and admired human being behind Nelson Mandela.
Andy Murray might console himself with this fact as he begins his off-season today, perhaps wondering why his match at the 02 Arena last night occasionally felt like an away Davis Cup tie versus Switzerland.
Outside his homeland Federer is admired nowhere more than he is in the UK, and understandably so, given his marvellous deeds at Wimbledon and the way that, even at 31, he remains among the most miraculously gifted and graceful athletes in any sport to watch.
He also attracts an international travelling fan club unlike anyone else in tennis, so it was no surprise that there were so many national flags and T shirts on show bearing the white cross on a red background.
It all made for an outstanding atmosphere, but what was also surprising was the lack of emphatic support for the home player, one playing his first tournament in London since his historic achievement of banishing the ghost of Fred Perry by winning the US Open.
And wasn’t that emotional and generous speech after the Wimbledon final meant to have turned us into a nation of Murray converts at long last?
Not on the evidence of last night, when he actually got booed by some sections as he changed his racket during the tiebreak.
One colleague reported astonishment at finding that someone with a broad Scottish accent was wearing one of those ‘RF’-logoed shirts.
If I had a pound for every time I told a reader, colleague or friend that the British No 1 is a more appealing chap for the knowing than he comes across on court or in a formal interview I would now be reclining on my yacht in the Caribbean, so let us not go back over old ground.
There will always be a hard core of people in England who will blame Murray for everything from the Barnett Formula to a throwaway line about not supporting England at football when he was much younger, but the fair-minded seemed to have warmed to him more than last night suggested.
What is certain is that he has handled himself impeccably since Wimbledon and has noticeably matured.
His extraordinary work ethic and monastic devotion to his sport has always been there to admire, and now increasingly he is able to make sense of the world in which he finds himself.
His bold decision to hire Ivan Lendl as coach, and the resulting Grand Slam victory, has simply been one of the great stories of a great sporting year.
Yet who is more likely to to win an award on Sports Personality of the Year next month?
Tennis players traditionally do well in the Overseas category, with six recipients in the last eleven years.
Novak Djokovic is the holder and Federer has won it three times.
He probably will not win it again in the year of the London Olympics, but he will not be far off in recognition of his latest Wimbledon title.
Murray is sure to poll strongly, as he should after achieving so much in a global individual sport which he competes at without any help from team-mates, but last night’s events bolster the view that Bradley Wiggins is a cert.
At what is a truly international event in a very international city it was not that Murray received a hostile reception from the 17,800 packed into the O2.
He was roared onto the court at the start of the match, and you can be sure that if it was against ABF (Anyone But Federer) he would have been the crowd favourite.
Seemingly we are prepared to forgive Federer’s his odd fashion faux-pas and occasional unselfconscious arrogance, but find it harder to look beyond Murray’s less serene demeanour on court to see how true he is to himself away from it.
Nonetheless, you would hope that next time a predominantly British crowd will not bend the knee quite so much before His Rogerness and get more behind a British player.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/tennis/article-2231786/Andy-Murray-home-support-Roger-Federer.html?ITO=socialnet-twitter-dmailsports&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=socialnet-twitter-dmailsports