Time – immemorial, at that – was, the US was very, very good at tennis and the UK was very, very bad. When I was growing up, the US had McEnroe and Connors and Evert and it appropriated Lendl and Navratilova. And I had an Ivan Lendl adidas tennis shirt that I treasured like Aztec gold. And then the US had Agassi and Sampras and Serena and Venus. In the UK, meanwhile, we had Jeremy Bates and Jo Durie and rain and Sue Barker and Cliff Richard (together or not, depending on whether you want that image burned on your retinas forever).
And then we had Tim Henman and his fist pumping, Daily Mail-fuelled near-missery. About which… the less said.
Advantage, if that didn’t imply the UK had somehow won three points: US. But now, the UK has Andy Murray and his gloriously contrary approach to the great questions of life, such as ‘Will a Brit ever win a grand slam again?’ (Yes, twice now, the little beauty) and ‘Are you Scottish or British?’ (For us in the press it was always Scottish when he lost, British when he won, so he’s a Brit now and let’s hope he stays so and doesn’t vote for bloody independence next year.) We also have Laura Robson, whom Australia kindly developed for us, and even Dan Evans is in the second round of the US Open today. And the US? Serena’s still world No1, and long may she continue to be so. But Venus is in eclipse and Sloane Stephens and Victoria Duval have unfulfilled promise at best. And the men? Well, John Isner’s quite tall. And, um… well… there’s… Nope. Stunning as it is to say, on the tennis court…
Advantage – at two sets all but with three match points: UK.
(Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)