Murraymania v Henmania

Posted by Emily

He is Britain’s number one, he seems to know exactly what he is doing and he has decent odds to make it to the next round. So why is Murraymania not conjuring up the same excitement as Henmania was back in the nineties?

In 1996, Henmania swept across Britain for the first time, having a large impact on the summer, and Tim Henman became the focus of public attention. But now, as Andy Murray is battling it out against Frenchman Richard Gasquet, the attention he receives from the British public does not compare to the coverage Henman attracted.

I am sitting at my desk with papers in front of me and all but one mention Murray. However, it still seems Murray is finding it harder to persuade the British to be on his side than it is for him to win his games.

Murray is getting media coverage all right, but perhaps not all of it is what he would like to read about. Today’s Daily Mail states the “major proportion of the viewing public” appears to name Murray as “a miserable git”. He also made himself unpopular among English tennis fans in 2006 when he said he would support any team playing England in the World Cup. So it’s not really surprising some are hesitant to get behind him at Wimbledon.

All eyes are now on the Scot and although many people seemingly have little confidence in him as a person, I’m sure most will agree he is fit for the job. Murray himself has admitted he is prepared and he is “physically and mentally” strong. He even says he has been feeling more relaxed on court. So, it appears Murray believes in himself as a candidate to win the Men’s Singles at Wimbledon. This perceived arrogance, in my view, is one thing the English do not want to see.

Murray first came close to victory two years ago after beating Andy Roddick but was sadly defeated by Marcos Baghdatis. He has bounced back and is bigger and better than before and is the last remaining Brit in the singles. He even has the backing of Tim Henman, who says he “has been first class”.

Maybe one of the biggest reasons for Murraymania not quite matching the might of ‘Tiger’ Tim is his attitude. He has been playing tennis professionally from a young age and Britain has watched him grow on court. A few years ago he could get away with being moody but now as he has outgrown the teenage mood swings.

Could it be that Henman was a friendlier, more entertaining character than Murray? One observer in today’s Daily Mail went as far as branding him “downright boring”.

Maybe Murray doesn’t want to court the British public and become the nation’s favourite nearly-but-not-quite as Henman was. If he delivers the goods in this tournament, and succeeds where Henman failed, then no amount of sullen looks or angst will stop the press from claiming Murray as a British sporting success story – and surely no one will call him “downright boring” then.

Are the press and public less favourable to Murray than they were to Henman? Let us know your thoughts.

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