Andy Murray's injury absence has hurt Wimbledon tennis spectacle

Andy Murray played at Queen's Club but decided against taking to the courts at Wimbledon due to a hip injury which kept him out for a year (Pic by Steven Paston)
Andy Murray played at Queen's Club but decided against taking to the courts at Wimbledon due to a hip injury which kept him out for a year (Pic by Steven Paston)

The mesmerising overall quality of matches at this summer’s football World Cup has kept millions of fans around the globe glued to their television sets, writes Craig Goldthorp.

And their laptops, tablets and mobile phones...
But, and I don’t like saying this, for me the same thing can’t be said about the goings on so far at tennis’s top tournament, Wimbledon.
Usually, I’ll follow this prestigious event avidly, as Andy Murray battles through the rounds and the fervour builds as we ask ourselves: ‘Can a Scottish man win tennis’s number one competition AGAIN’.
Sadly, Andy has been absent from this year’s tournament as he continues his comeback from injury, which to me has left a void which would be similar to that if ace striker Kylian Mbappe was taken out of finalists France's World Cup starting 11.
Quite simply, no Murray at Wimbledon meant little spectacle left for me and most likely thousands of other Scots fans, at least in the early rounds.
To illustrate my point, live tennis was on my tablet at home the other day, broadcasting the Wimbledon men’s singles match between three-times champion Novak Djokovic and British number one Kyle Edmond.
Without being too harsh, in my opinion the dour faced Edmund exudes about as much charisma and personality as a puff of chalk dust.
Even although the English player won the first set on centre court – he went on to lose the next three to crash out at the last 32 stage – I was so unenthralled about the tedious goings on that I thought: ‘Stuff this, I want to watch something else’.
What came into my head was Andy Murray, so I swiftly got onto You Tube and watched replays of classic Murray matches at Wimbledon.
I relived his enthralling 2013 final win over Djokovic, and the spine tingling moment when he became the first British Wimbledon men’s singles champion since Fred Perry a mammoth 77 years earlier.
It was wonderful to again see a hugely emotional Murray sink to his knees and bow his head towards the court – unabated joy all over his face – as he realised the enormity of what he had just achieved.
Murray’s mum Judy was also ecstatic and crying tears of joy up in the stand, with his partner Kim grinning from ear to ear and cheering enthusiastically.
The crowd was going absolutely ballistic as well, creating an atmosphere unlike anything else I’ve ever heard from a tennis crowd.
After really enjoying watching that throwback, I then found another classic You Tube video from 2015 entitled ‘The Best Game Ever? Murray v Federer’.
That’s the astonishing one that lasted 15 minutes and featured eight deuces, in which Murray recovered from 0-40 down to deuce, before eventually levelling the second set at five games all after a spellbinding series of action.
Some of the rallies in that semi-final were quite simply unbelievable to behold as I watched it again five years later, and to me absolutely summed up why I have loved following Wimbledon over the last 15 years.
And I say over the last 15 years because – and younger readers may not believe me here – there was a time in the not too distant pass when tennis at Wimbledon seemed dull whether a Scottish player was in it or not.
From around the mid 1990s until the early 2000s, it was all about power serving and the high odds on seeing a lengthy rally in a men’s singles match at Wimbledon were allegedly similar to those being offered on television viewers never once hearing a ‘Come on Tim’ shout from the crowd during a game involving perennial semi-final loser Tim Henman.
Round about that era the tournament was being dominated by guys like Pete Sampras, Boris Becker, Goran Ivanisevic, Mark Philippoussis and Todd Martin.
And let me tell you, that line-up of ace blasters regularly meant that televised matches held all the viewing appeal of watching two snails vy for supremacy in a 10-hour ‘race’ out your back garden.
A typical men’s singles game at Wimbledon would usually consist of one or two aces, an unreturnable serve and – if you were lucky – a serve and volley.
And in those pre-Murray days, if a British player won their first round match you half expected Prime Minister Tony Blair to declare a fortnight’s national holiday of celebration.
Thankfully, the tennis beaks realised something needed to change and they swiftly made the balls heavier and the courts slower in a bid to make things more viewer friendly.
And what a great thing they did, as it ushered in a thrilling new era featuring all time greats Djokovic, Federer and Raphael Nadal and Scots legend Murray, who added to his 2013 Wimbledon success by winning it again in 2016. Hopefully a thrilling men's sinles final this year will restore my faith!