OVERHEARD in a pub in Lytham last weekend: “Andy Murray. ANDY MURRAY! He’s rubbish. He’ll never win Wimbledon. He’s rubbish.”
As well as having a nasty habit of repeating himself (though he had downed several pints of lager, and who isn’t guilty of a little slurred repetition after an evening on the Stella?), the gentleman in question was completely wrong.
Well, he might be right about Murray never winning Wimbledon. Only time will tell.
But anyone criticising Murray about the standard of his tennis and labelling him rubbish is, with all due respect, a cretin.
Murray is officially the fourth-best player on the planet, has reached three Grand Slam finals and has won many top tournaments on the ATP tour.
Unfortunately, we in Britain excel in making uninformed, ill-judged and downright ludicrous comments about anyone vaguely successful, and calling Murray rubbish is about as stupid as you can get.
Of course he’s not rubbish. Only Djokovic, Nadal and Federer are better than him. And therein lies the problem.
Murray is an exceptionally gifted player. But he just isn’t quite as gifted and talented as those three.
Tennis at the very highest level is so tight, so dependent on the odd point at a crucial moment, that on any given day Murray can beat them ... and he has.
But class tells, and seven or eight times out of ten Murray will lose to the top three.
That’s nothing to be ashamed of and it doesn’t mean he’s a choker (as one national newspaper suggested). It just means he’s not quite as good.
It’s the same in any sport at any level. If you have a fight against a lad who’s slightly tougher, chances are you’ll get your face smashed in.
Same with Murray. He’s not quite as good.
Of course, the beauty is that it might not be like that forever.
Djokovic, who came through the junior ranks alongside Murray, was no better than the Scot until this year.
Only in 2011 has he risen to the incredible level he’s at. At the moment, no-one can touch him – not even Nadal and Federer, two of the greatest players ever to have picked up a racket, barring Jeremy Bates obviously.
That shows Murray can narrow the gap and get to the same level as the big three.
Even if he doesn’t, though, and finishes his career without any grand slams, the lad shouldn’t be slagged off.
He should be congratulated for playing tennis incredibly well and giving Britain a sporting figure to be proud of.
That’s something to tell your grandkids about, whereas being half-cut and mouthing off in a Lytham boozer probably isn’t.