readers will know, Tramlines has never been afraid of kicking a man when he's
But now, to
demonstrate our exceptional grasp of the principles of journalistic objectivity,
Tramlines will set about kicking a man when he's up.
Murray's case, we should say that he's not so much "up" as "up, up and away" after
three barnstorming weeks in which he's played tennis that Superman - or even
Novak Djokovic himself - would have been proud of.
so, the Scot has turned what looked like being his worst season since the mid-noughties into a decent year, and he has overtaken Roger Federer in the world rankings
for the first time.
truth of the matter, however, is that none of it means anything.
Federer? Great and all, but even the Swiss genius himself now accepts that he is on the
to take strength from that fact ("If you finish in front
of Federer in a year, then there's not many people in the last five, six, seven
years that have been able to say that" were his words) is like
Tramlines patting itself on the back for being able to take a set off Rod Laver
now that he's in his mid-70s. It's the wrong comparison with the wrong man at
the wrong time, and therefore meaningless.
Ah yes, say Murray's
fans: but what about the way he beat Rafael Nadal in Tokyo? Also meaningless. He
was in all sorts of trouble and on his way to a crushing defeat in a
final, so he started throwing his racquet at everything. By chance, his desperation coincided with an hour-long purple patch of
exceptional timing that carried him to victory.
But an hour-long purple
patch won't help him in a five-set Grand Slam final against Rafa Nadal or Djokovic. Actually,
that's not quite true: it might mean that he manages to lose in five sets
rather than three or four.
Ok. That's enough
negativity for now (despite the fact that we haven't even started on the injury-enforced
absence of Djokovic over the last few weeks). Tramlines isn't trying to
say that Murray is no good, that he doesn't deserve his new ranking, or that he'll
never win a Grand Slam.
But we are trying to
say that it would be a terrible mistake for the newly-minted world number three
to see his trio of shiny new trophies as anything other than scant consolation
at the end of a dismal year.
Murray is well past the stage of his career where winning ordinary tournaments counts for anything. He has, and needs, only one yardstick: Grand Slam victories.
And the danger is that
taking too much heart from his success against tired, end-of-season players in tournaments
with weakened fields could breed the sort of complacency that will doom him to another year of falling short when it really matters.
- - - - -
gimmick of the week
We thought it'd be a
while before last week's 'tennis stars as terracotta warriors' PR stunt would
be rivalled for sheer baffling bizarreness in this blog.
We were wrong: to
promote the tennis tournament at the Pan American Games in Mexico, organisers
decided that the obvious way forward was to erect a human skeleton holding a
tennis racquet next to a taxi rank in downtown Guadalajara.