Great article about Andy @ US Open. LOL at the lacy underwear in the post.
Murray and rock 'n' roll New York are made for each other
By Mark Hodgkinson
As a teenage player now infamous for his walk-on routine, in which he emerges from the locker room listening to the thrash and drums on his iPod, it is hardly a surprise that Andy Murray lists the US Open as his favourite tournament. Playing tennis in New York, he has said, is "more rock 'n' roll" than the garden party feel of Wimbledon.
It is not just that Murray has fond memories of Flushing Meadows from last year, as it was on these hard courts that he became the junior champion, the first Briton to win the boys' singles title. The 18-year-old, like most people of his age, enjoys loud music, noise, and vibrant colours, and the US Open, the final grand slam event of the season and also the liveliest by quite some distance, has those in abundance.
"They play music during the change of ends and there's lots of noise and excitement. It's a got a real buzz about it, it's more rock 'n' roll, so it attracts a much younger audience as well as traditional tennis fans," Murray said yesterday.
"The night matches are cool, the atmosphere is great. I like to play in New York as the fans are really noisy and they support the guy who is behind as they want to see good, close tennis," he said.
First, though, Murray must qualify for the tournament. He was denied a wild card into the main draw, meaning that he is unable to rest his tiring body and his serving shoulder this week, as he had been hoping to do after seven weeks without a break in America.
There has been some concern over the shoulder, which has been sore on his serve and has caused him difficulties sleeping. The qualifying event starts today and he must win three matches in four days if he is to make his first appearance at a major without the help of a wild card.
If Murray does qualify for the US Open, it is likely that the atmosphere will help him play some of the ferocious, intelligent tennis that he is capable of - especially if he is feeling a little tired. He is far from shy on the court, a player who enjoys the theatrical nature of a tennis match as much as anyone else on the Tour, so New York is surely the crowd for him. Murray and the US Open appear to be a neat fit.
The regulars in blue-collar Queens always like a bit of audience participation with their tennis, occasionally hooting and hollering and whistling at the players, and it can become rowdy during the night sessions as the spectators' inhibitions are removed by the darkness and the effects of too many paper cups of beer. Murray will love that. The Centre Court crowd during his third-round defeat at Wimbledon this year, when he was the last remaining Briton in the draw, were strangely quiet at times.
Another aspect Murray will appreciate about New York is that, unlike at the All England Club during Wimbledon, he will not have to adhere to the white clothing rule that he found so restrictive. He said after his defeat at Wimbledon that he wanted to show teenagers that tennis "is not a boring sport", that you can scream, shout, pump your fist and wear colourful outfits. "Teenagers like colours - it's what we are about," declared Murray, who says he even admires the "flaming red and yellow logos" of the US Open.
Just as Murray has taken an interest in all things American, so the sport's power-brokers and Stateside commentators have started to notice him. Indeed, some have already bracketed him alongside other teenagers such as the French Open champion, Rafael Nadal, and the talented Frenchmen Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils.
The Americans probably think that he has been so very un-English with his demonstrative behaviour on court. And they would be right. As Murray has already pointed out, in quite forceful terms, to a few confused American journalists: "No, I'm Scottish."
The interest in America is understandable, if mildly surprising in a country that can be a little insular, even with a sport as global as tennis. Murray has won two Challenger titles during his summer in America, and won a match at each of the three main Tour events for which he has been given a wild card. Last week he took a set off Marat Safin, the Australian Open champion, and is now threatening to break into the top 100 for the first time. No wonder his mother, Judy, says he is starting to receive lacy underwear, among other presents, in his fan mail.
Greg Rusedski, another Briton who has had a successful summer on the American hard courts, has been impressed with Murray's attitude. "Andy doesn't go out there scared, he goes out there to win every time and believes that he can beat whoever he's playing. That is what you need. That's what makes the differences between someone who does OK and someone who does well. That is what sets him apart from the other young British players," Rusedski said.
Murray has also been greatly helped by his new coach, Mark Petchey. The pair are on the road together for the first time during this long trip to the States. They have bonded away from the court over backgammon and video games in amusement arcades, with the coach apparently winning the former and the player the latter. Murray's relationship with his previous coach, the elderly Colombian Pato Alvarez, partly broke down because the teenager would become so bored during their weeks on the Tour. However, he enjoys the company of Petchey, who is in his mid-30s. The youth appeal clearly helps.
Perhaps Murray is just being a normal teenager in preferring Flushing Meadows to Wimbledon, the most traditional of the four grand slam events. He will be determined to qualify for the main draw at the US Open, the rock 'n' roll tournament where he really covets success.