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Murray wins respect in defeat

AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Venue: Melbourne Park Date: 19 January-1 February
Coverage: BBC Red Button, BBC One & Two, Radio 5 Live sports extra, BBC Sport website (Red Button coverage streamed on website throughout fortnight)

By Annie McGuire
BBC Scotland reporter in Melbourne

Andy Murray
Murray's title hopes came to an end against Verdasco

Here we are again, dissecting why yet another predicted Scottish sporting success didn't quite come off.

Over the last two weeks here at the Australian Open, Andy Murray has been calmness and maturity personified, seemingly so comfortable in his own skin - and in his ability - that even being labelled tournament favourite wasn't an issue for the 21-year-old.

And yet he's gone out to a player he had never previously lost to.

So what is there to take heart from? Well, the manner in which Murray accepted defeat says much for his character.

My medical expertise is limited, but in the post-match interview that I did, I think anyone can see that, even for a Scot, Andy Murray was looking more than a little 'peely wally'.

It is to his credit, in a tournament where we've seen four retirals in the last two days, that the Scot chose to fight on, and furthermore chose to deny his health had affected the outcome.

Novak Djokovic, who walks away citing cramps and aches and pains, would in all likelihood have lost to Andy Roddick but leaves Melbourne without a 'defeat' against his name - a course Murray didn't choose to take.

We'll next get a chance to see the Scot up close when the Davis Cup returns to Glasgow's Braehead Arena in March.

MY SPORT: DEBATE

And the other positive we can take from what's happened out here in Melbourne is the level of support Murray has had in every match - particularly those held in the second tier stadium, the Hisense Arena, where tickets aren't as hard to come by.

For Murray's final match, more than one in 10 of the supporters were bedecked with Saltires and singing 'Flower of Scotland' or 'Only one Andy Murray' at each change of ends.

It begs the question why he'll probably never enjoy that kind of support at our home grand slam, Wimbledon.

In my role as roving reporter for Five Live during his quarter-final loss to Rafael Nadal there, it was almost impossible to find anyone cheering the 'home favourite' on.

The record will show I ended up speaking to a) Aussies who'd adopted him, or b) Spaniards who didn't want their day at the tennis to end too quickly.

The fact is that the strawberries and ice cream world that is Wimbledon is a million miles away from the terrain our Tartan Army-types normally operate on.

But I hope, for Murray's sake, that changes and, come Braehead in March, Scotland has no excuse not to turn up in numbers.

For Scots, a nation raised on a diet of glorious sporting failure, the next couple of weeks could be something of a challenge.

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see also
Murray building up for success
18 Jan 09 |  Tennis
Murray on a mission
15 Jan 09 |  Tennis


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