HeraldScotland blogger GARY JOHNSTON, watching the UK No. 1 from the stands, remains impressed
It’s not easy to tell which of the two players on the court at Rod Laver Arena looks the most Scottish but Big Andy’s opponent, Ricardas Berankis, just shades it.
Oh Andy looks pretty Scottish, we know that, the ginger hair being a bit of a giveaway but Ricardas, from Lithuania, reminds you of a certain kind of Scot.
A Ned, to be honest. A wee Schemie.
Short, but more than a bit handy, he starts the game with the baseball cap on backwards; he’s a wee swaggering sort of fella, nuggetty, a ned, for sure, right down to the heavy gold chain and the fistful of sovvy rings.
Okay, I made it up about the rings. But you get the picture - Ricardas looks like wan o’ the troops, man, pure dingy, by the way…
I like him.
And I’m not alone. Sitting in the shaded area of Rod Laver Arena with my mate Dave ‘the Scot’, a Melbourne radio presenter, you can tell that the more Ricardas gets up Andy’s craw, the more the crowd take to him.
The result is never really in doubt; Big Andy has all the artillery and is a class apart, but he’s definitely getting noised up.
It’s like that scenario continually replayed in school toilets nationwide, when one of the older more successful pupils is hassled by some little runt of a 3rd year with nothing to lose and no time to lose it.
‘I’ll chib you, ya dafty,’ Berankis’s body language is bawling, as he skitters around the court, forcing Murray into some atypical mistakes, which results in, for the first time in the tournament, his serve being broken.
Hmm. Is Andy the real deal?
Is he all front and no backbone? Is he, underneath it all a Big Feartie?
Andy starts muttering to himself. Sport psychology-speak, stuff about focus and concentration. The wind is swirling around and he’s not happy with his game. He’s making mistakes, getting caught; the wee man is in danger of owning him.
Andy stands up to be counted. He’s still not in the best form but even Murray-Lite is an impressive sight. He serves himself out of trouble, asserts himself and takes the set.
Berankis is still causing our man some problems, and the Murray Mob which is growing by the game – this was the first one to sell out the Arena - are getting a bit antsy, but after some mumping and moaning, Andy gets the job done.
His tennis isn’t impressive by his standards but Dave the Scot and I reckon it’s just what the big fella needs and unlike me, Dave knows what he’s talking about.
A noise-up. Nobody likes it but if you put yourself up as a bit of a somebody you have to expect it. Wee men - noise-up specialists - have to be faced down and even though you know it won’t be easy, there’s no alternative, it has to be done.
Andy passed the test. Not with flying colours but convincingly enough.
He overcame the Ned Factor. That’s got to be good.
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