Andy Murray – The New Fred Perry?

Fred perry at footasylum

Fred perry at footasylum
After his historic victory at Queens, it’s not just the Fred Perry t-shirts that Andy Murray wears which link him to the great man.

It’s been a long time since the British public have been able to get properly excited by the prospect of a Brit winning the Wimbledon men’s title. And no – we haven’t forgotten about Tim Henman, but he was never really going to win, was he? We saw Henman more as a rank outsider with the potential of claiming the odd high profile scalp en-route to an inevitable quarter or semi-final humiliation, which, to be fair to him, he diligently delivered in bucket-loads over the course of his career. Henman did serve a useful purpose, though. He ‘managed down’ our expectations of what we thought was possible, so now that we have a genuine title contender on our hands in the form of the plucky Scot, we’re actually pleasantly surprised every time he takes his game to the next level, rather than being constantly disappointed by the fact that he never seems to step it up into that final hyperdrive gear.

Fred Perry in his sights

At just 22 years old, time is on Murray’s side for breaking Fred Perry’s record. Perry didn’t take his first major until the age of 25 (Australia), although upon breaking into major territory he racked up no fewer than 8 titles in just 3 years, including 3 at Wimbledon, as well as each of the other 3 majors at least once. But let’s not forget the context for Murray though. There’s the small matter of having to negotiate a path past or around the likes of Roger Federer – a man on a mission to prove he’s not a has been, and more than capable of adding to his record-equalling haul of majors over the next few seasons at least, and possible beyond. Then there’s Nadal. We don’t have to add anything more here really, other than mention the simple fact that he’s one of the most formidable opponents ever to take to the court. And let’s not forget Djokovic, who although losing the momentum just slightly recently, is attempting to muscle in on the exact same ground as Murray. Murray’s got his work cut out if he’s going to get even remotely close to Fred Perry, but it’s all the more encouraging that he’s not merely been relying on the luck of the draw to carry him through recent tournaments. He’s beating all the right opponents along the way.

Written in the stars?

When trawling through the stats and figures on Fred Perry, one number in particular leaps off the page. The number is Perry’s birth year: 1909. Exactly one hundred years after the birth of the greatest British player of all time, could it just be possible that, at long last, Britain has got itself another star of the court? You’d hope so, and so far this year, the signs are good. OK, so there was the disappointment of the Australian Open, where Murray failed to hit the form that saw him pencilled in as favourite by some. And then the sheer frustration of the French Open, where a path to the final was laid thanks to the early departure of Nadal, but still Murray couldn’t summon the form to capitalise. But then there was Queens - the Wimbledon ‘warm up’ - which Murray took without even dropping a set. Murray’s blistering form at Queens, coupled with Nadal’s recent injury, has seen his Wimbledon odds slashed. Perhaps the confidence of being a genuine contender without the pressure of being favourite could prove to be the factor that pushes him up the final rung. Only time will tell. Wimbledon 2009 starts on Monday 22nd June.

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