Our blogger GARY JOHNSTON reports from the Rod Laver Arena as Andy Murray makes it through round one
Like every sporting event, it’s different when you’re actually there.
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As Andy Murray strides on to the Rod Laver Arena, in glorious Melbourne morning sunshine, it’s simply impossible not to feel proud.
And yes, I admit it, patriotic. He’s Oor Boy. And he’s a superstar.
Thanks to a Facebook spoof which portrayed him as Mick Dundee, Andy, now known locally as Crocodile Dunblane, is absolute top drawer. Pure class.
On telly, he looks like a tall, skinny bloke but in the flesh, so to speak, the man’s a colossus. Massive shoulders and humungous muscled up thighs that could crack a walnut without even trying, Andy is the perfect specimen.
‘A big stoater’, according to a wee woman a couple of rows in front of me whose pasty skin tone and apparent 45 Embassy a day habit suggests she too, is one of Scotia’s finest.
I’m sitting at the Rod Laver Arena, roof fully retracted, in fantastic seats courtesy of my mate Billy Abbott, one of Melbourne’s top saxophonists and known around town as Mr Zydeco.
Not to his Scottish mates however, who’ve dubbed him ‘Oor Wullie’ due entirely to his extraordinary propensity for a good bucket.
Born and bred in Edinburgh, Wullie has spent the last couple of hours insisting that this game is in the bag.
And he’s right. Andy looks the part, playing up the Crocodile Dunblane angle in Aussie green and gold, whereas his opponent, Robin ‘Schlobber’ Haase is a pretty ordinary looking, curly-haired, sinewy bloke in baggy white pants and a blue t-shirt.
It doesn’t seem fair – Andy is supreme and ‘Schlobber’ frankly, looks like an easy going sort of character who’d be much happier with a spliff than a tennis racquet in his hand.
And that’s how he plays too – occasionally brilliant but generally erratic and prone to errors. Andy blows him away in three relatively easy sets, with an assuredness and professional display which makes you realise just how good he is.
An 11am start means the Arena is no more than half full but there are plenty of ex-pats amongst the crowd, including a prototype Murray Mound who, a bit half-heartedly, start to sing ‘Andy’s Song’ to the tune of “Old McDonald” –
‘Andy Murray is a ledge, eeiieeio!’
Legend. It’s short for ‘legend’ which shows that for all the expats backing him, there are plenty of locals in his corner, a fact which might begin to explain the Crocodile Dunblane nickname and – am I’m hearing this right? – ‘Aussie Andy’.
The temperature in Melbourne this morning was 25F – no wind, almost perfect. Oor Boy’s next game is likely to coincide with an expected heatwave, the thermometer needle nudging 40F.
Aussie Andy can take the heat. Fair dinkum, mate.