IT is not dark yet. But it is getting there. The affection of Robert Zimmerman for tennis is well known with his works featuring such diatribes against the fashion excesses of the royal box (Leopard-Skin-Pill-Box-Hat) and his anguish over the the turgidly long Isner- Mahut match that stretched over days (I Shall Be Released).

The opening words of these witterings, however, could be taken as a meditation on the 2021 circumstances of Andrew Barron Murray, otherwise known as Oor Andy, a tennis player of this parish.

As he walks out into what is hopefully the blazing sun at Wimbledon next week, there will be a general acceptance that Murray is striding into the dusk of an astonishing career. This, of course, is hardly certain.

In the same way that Superman was faster than a speeding bullet, in the same way as Spider-Man could climb the defiant face of a slippery Boris lie, Murray’s superpower seems to be the ability to confound critics. He comes back. He always has.

Murray’s body is bolstered by ankle braces, scarred with operations on his wrist, back and hips. He was born with a bipartisan patella, basically a split kneecap. His medical history, then, describes a patient who has survived a serious car crash rather than an elite athlete who has won three grand slams, two Olympic golds and, with his brother, the tennis world cup for Dunblane.

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It is, perhaps, an appropriate moment to celebrate what Murray means to Scotland. There has been much talk lately of 23 years of hurt. This relates to the national football team.

Tennis lovers in Scotland, though, have never had it so good. More pertinently, there has been a huge rise in that cadre. Murray first played Wimbledon as a professional in 2005. It has been a decade and more of dramatic excitement, lurching with nausea-inducing extremities of near misses and tears and victories and tears. For us as well as Murray.

It can be said, without hyperbole, that this Scot united a nation, fixed its eyes on televisions at home and on holiday. He tested our nerves to the limit. It was as if, in true Scottish fashion, he liked a good wind-up. On countless occasions the national nerves were as taut as Robin Hood’s bow in that seminal final against the Sheriff of Nottingham.

His legacy to youngsters is substantial. It speaks of the importance of hard work, the willingness to learn constantly and the determination to remain true to oneself in the face of sporting triumph and failure.

But what are his lessons for those of us who are in the fifth set of life and fear there may be no tie-break?

This old dodderer clung resolutely to Murray’s coattails as he traversed the world. He gave me one of the best days of my life when he won Wimbledon. We all know the important days concern family but Murray nudged himself into that category for many because his struggles somehow touched the spectator.

His awkwardness in his early days ostracised some but even those came on board when it was communally realised that this was a generally shy boy lured into a different world by the beckoning finger of his extraordinary talent.

His decency became starkly apparent. Yup, he swore on court but at himself and, at times, his mates. He was never linked with bad sportsmanship, never mind cheating. He took and takes resolute stands against misogyny (levelled at industrial levels against his mother, for example), doping and racism. His greatest award in a stellar career may be the Arthur Ashe award for humanitarian work.

He is not a saint. He could be crabbit, even cranky. But it passed. And this, too, is a gentle lesson.

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However, it was his endurance that beguiled this pensioner and, frankly, still does. I do not refer to those four-hour plus marathons, invariably under the sun. There can be little identification in the masses for the physical conditioning necessary to do this seven times in a fortnight to win a grand slam. I became deeply fatigued just watching him.

But I can relate to the ability to endure. It seems an ability that humanity shares in varying degrees. We all have and will endure something.

But Murray’s ability to go on is not just a product of Caledonian thrawnness. It is not just a result of his willingness to grit teeth and and accept physical pain.

There is a deeply edifying, even inspiring trait in his determination to walk on to a patch of grass in south-west London next week. It is this: he is doing what he loves. Murray left financial insecurity far behind him many years ago. He was never fuelled by the commercial opportunities offered to him by his sporting successes. Sponsors demand time off-court. Murray kept these duties to a minimum.

This imperative existed before he had a family of his own. It continues to this day when his time is carefully managed.

Tennis, though, remains a passion. He watches it constantly, dissects it with care and with insight. He wants to play it competitively. Next week. The week after. The week after that. There must, of course, be an end.

I hope for him and the Tartan Tennis Army that it is not close. But he continues to offer me a sharp lesson on life as a pensioner.

It is this: continue to do what you love as long as possible. It helps make every day new and fresh.

As auld Bob Z has said: he not busy being born is busy dying.

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