The highs and lows of a British tennis player

Is today the day?

Oh how we wept watching Tim Henman; so close yet so far. Watching him became an annual, masochistic ritual. We all knew very well that Tiger Tim wasn't going to make it, but we watched, prayed and named a hill after him in the hope that he would end the drought. Every year we got drawn in only to have our hearts broken, and yet we came back for more. Such was the life of a British tennis fan.

June arrived and once again our attention turned to the green courts of Wimbledon, the stats were rolled out and yet again we all dared to ponder whether this was our year. In the first week the Euro's offered distraction for some but as ever England went out at the quarter finals, so to Murray we turned. Murray unlike Henman, in both play and manner, seemed to offer us some hope. A Scotsman on a mission to win a grandslam, rather than merely reaching the final hurdle as he had done so before.

At the beginning of Wimbledon who would have dared thought Rafa would go out in the second round, to an effective unknown? Such is the charm of tennis; you can't win a grand slam in the first week, but you can lose it. Rafa went out and in doing so he paved the way for Murray to reach his first Wimbledon final creating a moral dilemma: who to support in the final? On the one hand, many want Federer to win one more slam, and to prove that whatever Nadal and Djokovic have done he can still do it better. On the other, 76 years is a too long for the British public to wait.

Not since 1938 has Britain had a man in the Wimbledon final, but for Murray to win he will have to overcome the formidable force that is Roger Federer. Is it possible? The stats say yes. In 2006 Roger Federer reigned supreme; winning 92 matches and losing just four, three to Nadal and one to Andy Murray. Murray leads on the heads to heads winning eight out of 15, but he has never beaten Federer in a grand slam. In fact, he is yet to even win a set against him in a grandslam final. All of that was before Ivan Lendl became his coach at the end of last year, though. Murray seems a different player now, showing real strength of character to beat David "the roadrunner" Ferrer in the quarterfinals.

Federer, the indisputable greatest player of all time, has 16 grand slams standing in his favour, to Murray’s zero. Federer oozes style, grace and composure and is loved by tennis fans world-wide, whereas Murray lacks charm and has yet to win a grandslam (or really the hearts of the nation, although a victory would secure that). But one gets the feeling that luck and indeed fate is on Murray's side. When London hosted its first Olympics in 1908, Arthur Gore was Wimbledon champion and became Olympic champion. But maybe we should settle for just Wimbledon.

This is one Scotsman who could be about to make history. Come on Tim Andy Murray!

Andy Murray serves in a practice session. Photograph: Getty Images
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Voters are turning against Brexit but the Lib Dems aren't benefiting

Labour's pro-Brexit stance is not preventing it from winning the support of Remainers. Will that change?

More than a year after the UK voted for Brexit, there has been little sign of buyer's remorse. The public, including around a third of Remainers, are largely of the view that the government should "get on with it".

But as real wages are squeezed (owing to the Brexit-linked inflationary spike) there are tentative signs that the mood is changing. In the event of a second referendum, an Opinium/Observer poll found, 47 per cent would vote Remain, compared to 44 per cent for Leave. Support for a repeat vote is also increasing. Forty one per cent of the public now favour a second referendum (with 48 per cent opposed), compared to 33 per cent last December. 

The Liberal Democrats have made halting Brexit their raison d'être. But as public opinion turns, there is no sign they are benefiting. Since the election, Vince Cable's party has yet to exceed single figures in the polls, scoring a lowly 6 per cent in the Opinium survey (down from 7.4 per cent at the election). 

What accounts for this disparity? After their near-extinction in 2015, the Lib Dems remain either toxic or irrelevant to many voters. Labour, by contrast, despite its pro-Brexit stance, has hoovered up Remainers (55 per cent back Jeremy Corbyn's party). 

In some cases, this reflects voters' other priorities. Remainers are prepared to support Labour on account of the party's stances on austerity, housing and education. Corbyn, meanwhile, is a eurosceptic whose internationalism and pro-migration reputation endear him to EU supporters. Other Remainers rewarded Labour MPs who voted against Article 50, rebelling against the leadership's stance. 

But the trend also partly reflects ignorance. By saying little on the subject of Brexit, Corbyn and Labour allowed Remainers to assume the best. Though there is little evidence that voters will abandon Corbyn over his EU stance, the potential exists.

For this reason, the proposal of a new party will continue to recur. By challenging Labour over Brexit, without the toxicity of Lib Dems, it would sharpen the choice before voters. Though it would not win an election, a new party could force Corbyn to soften his stance on Brexit or to offer a second referendum (mirroring Ukip's effect on the Conservatives).

The greatest problem for the project is that it lacks support where it counts: among MPs. For reasons of tribalism and strategy, there is no emergent "Gang of Four" ready to helm a new party. In the absence of a new convulsion, the UK may turn against Brexit without the anti-Brexiteers benefiting. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.