Australian Open - Tramlines: And so the wait goes on ...

Sun, 30 Jan 16:53:00 2011

It could have been the sleep-deprived state Tramlines found itself in or the 40 degree sunshine that was forecast for the day in Melbourne but it was hard to ignore a feeling of optimism this morning.

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And Tramlines even indulged in a spot of singing in the shower (Tramlines as it turns out is no Susan Boyle) with a couple of lines from a popular 1990s sporting song a particular feature.

"Jules Rimet still gleaming/30 years of hurt/Never stopped me dreaming ..."

Oh wait, wrong sport.

Never mind, nothing was going to spoil Trammers's mood today. There were two good players in the final and it was going to be a well-matched clash.

It's the same principle anyway, albeit with a few extra decades added on.

In fact, as we have all been told a number of times, it's been 75 years since there was a last British Grand Slam winner. 75 years. That's three times the length of Trammers's lifetime.

A little later indulging in a champion's breakfast with Cow Corner, a VB in one hand and a couple of TimTims in the other, the feeling of optimism continued.

Trammers: "So do you think England can win the cricket and keep the ODI series alive?"

Cowers: "I hope so. We bowled brilliantly. You think Murray can beat Djokovic? The Serb hasn't been getting the credit he deserves for his form."

Trammers: "I hope so. If he plays like he did in the first four rounds, I think he'll just edge it."

It's that kind of spot-on analysis that earns Tramlines and Cow Corner their minimum wage pay packet each month, as Australia went on to beat England by 51 runs in Brisbane (thereby taking an unassailable 4-1 lead in the seven-match series) and Novak Djokovic thrashed Andy Murray in three sets to lift the Norman Brooks Trophy for the second time.

Since when did Britain stop being a nation of heroic losers and just start losing (England's impressive Ashes triumph aside)? Even the England football team don't have the decency anymore to make it look like they might win something, only to pull the rug out from under our feet with a "soul-crushing defeat".

Actually Trammers is being a little harsh.

Andy Murray does deserve credit for reaching his second successive Australian Open final. Of course he does.

He did what 126 of the other players who arrived in Melbourne two weeks ago couldn't do. And he played well to get there. Or more specifically, to start with he played well.

He was beaten by a player in the form of his life, riding high on confidence after reaching last year's US Open final and leading his country to the Davis Cup final.

It's not actually the fact that Murray lost that rankles with Tramlines, it's the manner in which he did it.

General opinion had it that facing Djokovic instead of Federer in the final would help Murray, he would be freed of the constraints of facing the 16-times Grand Slam champion and could produce a great match, probably of at least four sets, against a player he has faced since he was 12-years-old.

But instead the Brit looked lacklustre from the outset. He won just nine games. Nine.

That matches the performance from his first Grand Slam final when he was crushed at the US Open by Roger Federer in 2008 and four less than he won in last year's Melbourne final, also against Federer, a defeat that famously reduced him to tears.

No, the point is not that Murray lost today, he was beaten by the better player on the day.

The point is that once again he failed to produce anything even close to his best tennis in the big match, the one that really mattered.

RALLY OF THE DAY: A 38-shot exchange, with Murray serving to stay in the first set at 4-5 15-30. After a lengthy baseline exchange the incredibly focused Djokovic somehow managed to turn defence into attack, coming into the net as a last resort and drawing a forehand error from Murray.

TWEET OF THE DAY: "novak can talk the talk.....but can he do the penguin walk??" Yes, Jamie Murray, it turns out he very much can.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "It's better than it was last year. It was obviously tough, disappointing. You know, I thought Novak played unbelievably well. Yeah, it's tough, but I've got to deal with it." Is it really better than last year, Andy? Some might argue the opposite.


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