The second half of June must be a sad time for fans of daytime telly. The nights are long and the grass is green. Tennis, anyone?
If you felt like watching Pointless today you would have been disappointed. That is, unless you are a fan of Germany’s Benjamin Becker who was swept aside in straight sets by the not-so-dour Scot Andy Murray. After an excellent documentary broadcast on the Beeb last night and a year including two Olympic medals, his first ever Grand Slam, and that speech and those tears after last year’s Wimbledon final, Murray is as popular as ever and reclaiming fans inexorably. Could this be the year? Will the ghost of Fred Perry in 1936 finally be exorcised?
The comfortable 6-4 6-3 6-2 victory sees Murray safely through to the second round where he will face Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan. The big news today, however, shunted the public’s re-ordained hero Murray sideways onto the Red Button for periods of the afternoon, as a Belgian ranked 135th in the world sent a certain two-time champion crashing out of the tournament. Indeed, Steve Darcis played the match of his life to beat Rafael Nadal, who fresh from victory at the French Open could not even win a set. Admittedly, Rafa was limping, but let’s not take anything away from Darcis’ achievement. And with Darcis pronounced ‘Darcy’, Mr. Steve could yet become the darling of Middle England. With his tousled blond coiffure and cultured Belgian smoothness, the 29-year old could set many a heart racing. His coach’s heart at least. High-octane stuff, this tennis malarkey.
Elsewhere, every single other Brit who played today lost. James Ward gallantly fought Murray’s next opponent Lu of Taiwan, but to no avail, as he lost in a four set thriller. 18-year old Kyle Edmund was no match for the 24th seed Jerzy Janowicz of Poland, but in only his first Senior Grand Slam appearance, playing such high-ranked players will at least have been good for experience. On the women’s side of the draw, Keothavong, Konta, Murray and Baltacha all fell by the wayside, with British women’s tennis two biggest names Laura Robson and Heather Watson set to play tomorrow.
So what have we learned today? It’s an oft repeated sporting cliché that you can’t win the whole thing early doors, but you can definitely lose it. We learned that Murray, Federer and Tsonga are progressing nicely and setting up some potentially tasty clashes for the second week. We did however learn that Nadal won’t be there. In the women’s draw, Sharapova and Azarenka cruised through, and that’s about it really. We also learned that Wimbledon is back on the telly for a fortnight of thudding aces, sweaty faces and as long as Andy Murray is involved, no shortage of tears.