Is There Enough Passion To Drive British Tennis?

Posted on: 01 May 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Serbian Novak Djokovic, number 3 seed doesn't think so.

Since Tim Henman’s demise and retirement, British tennis fans have put their hopes on 20-year-old Andy Murray.  Marching up the rankings at an astonishing pace, the Glaswegian-born youngster promises much, regardless of his recent dip through inujry. 

Although yet to make a serious challenge for one of tennis’ four major tournaments, Murray has picked up five titles on the ATP tour - the last coming in February 2008 in Marseille.

Since turning pro three years ago Murray has earnt more than $2million through competitions and prize money, and is already streets ahead of his next British rival.

Murray’s highest career ranking is 8th, and although he currently sits at 20th in the world, he is in fact the only British tennis player in the top 200. Jamie Baker, another Scot, is next in line- way back in 241st.

But despite what we see as success in this country, another sees as spectacular failure.

Novak Djokovic, another 20-year-old has put Murray in the shade, and at the same time, taken a swipe at the sport in the UK.

Last week Djokovic romped to a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Murray at the Monte Carlo Masters before pulling out during his semi-final against world number one Roger Federer on Saturday, due to injury.

The Serbian, who won the Australian Open in January claims young British tennis players lack the hunger needed to succeed.  During an interview on BBC1’s “Inside Sport” programme on Monday night, Djokovic said young potential professional tennis players are spoilt.

“If you have perfect conditions and everything you want, you don’t know the real meaning of being a professional tennis player and you don’t work as hard as you are supposed to.”

“You don not have hunger for success because everything is on a plate.”

Djokovic, who is rumoured to have been considered taking British citizenship in 2006, insists his close friend Murray could never be described as spoilt.

The two have a long tennis rivalry but share mutual appreciation to each other’s game, and Djokovic believes it won’t be long before Murray joins him in the world top five.

“He has enough quality, enough talent, and enough potential.”

But whilst we continue to idolise Murray as our only British hopeful, the mature and educated Djokovic is already being talked about as the next best thing in world tennis.

Some have suggested he is nearly ready to take over the mantle from Federer and Rafael Nadal as the world’s best.

Born in war-torn Belgrade and now living in Monte Carlo, in just five years of professional tennis he has already raked in nearly $7million.

And despite reaching the semi-finals in all four majors and coming home with one trophy, the “Djoker” as he is known on court, is a primary example of what British youngsters should be following in their tennis tuition.

By Mark O’Haire

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