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An awestruck observer asks: Is Andy Murray really a Scot?

HeraldScotland blogger Gary Johnston hails his fellow Scot's prowess in reaching the quarter-finals

‘You know what’s it like when you’re fighting a wee skinny guy in the National Health glasses’? says my mate Billy Abbott high up in the stand at Hisense Arena. ‘You take it easy.  It’s almost impossible to go completely radge.  You feel kind of sorry for him…’

This piece of homespun philosophy, probably only really apt if your residence of origin was, like Billy, a downmarket Edinburgh housing scheme, might actually be on the money. (Which incidentally, in the pub afterwards, Billy rarely is.)

Andy Murray is well in charge of this match, even though he’s not playing that well.  His opponent is Gilles Simon, an undersized French fella who looks like he’s about 12. 

What’s more, young Gilles played five gruelling sets in the heat on Saturday, afterwards describing himself as ‘tres biscuit’. Which in case you don’t know, is French for cream crackered.

To give you some idea about how formidable Big Andy is – our boy – Gilles gave himself the traditional two chances of ending this game on the winning side.  None and **** all.

Which explains Billy’s unpretentious, East-coast pronouncement.  Andy is finding it hard to build himself up for this one.  Even the crowd can sense it, he’s making mistakes, netting easy forehands, putting young Gilles up the other end under no pressure at all.

He’s in command, though. Andy is that good. 

I find it hard to believe he’s really a Scot – maybe we should check his DNA, the man is a WINNER, all the other players genuinely fear him.  That tells you all need to know - Andy is one of the elite. 

He is, in every sense of the phrase, ‘The Big Man’.

To be honest, it’s a skoosh case.  Don’t get me wrong, Simon is a brilliant tennis player, he’s not just some diddy who’s inexplicably found himself in the last 16 of a Grand Slam, but he’s clearly shattered, his body language deafening in its noiseless shrieks of ‘gonna no’ batter me, Big Stuff’’.

He’s not getting absolutely pumped, he’s winning plenty of points, it’s just that you know that come the inevitable, Giles will be being described as ‘plucky’ rather than ‘victorious’.

The crowd are a bit low-key too, it’s hard to get too excited when you know a win is inevitable.  I suppose it’s like Celtic when they play a wee diddy outfit and Billy’s team Hibs when they play, uh…No, hang on that one doesn’t really work, does it?

It might be low-key but, honestly, it’s not boring. 

Andy Murray is in the next round and he’s a giant of this game, though I have to say that, up in the stands, some of us are turning to small talk, not least Nina Simone Abbott, Billy’s daughter.

‘When did you ever fight a wee specky boy?’ she innocently asks.  ‘I’ve seen the family album.  You werethe wee specky boy…’

Andy is in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open Tennis championship.  All the other players are scared of him. 

And he hasn’t really started playing yet.

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