Britain has been involved in some pretty heavy defeats in its time. The Somme, the football World Cup 2018 bid (well, that was England really), pretty much everything the EU has decided upon.
Now comes a new defeat that has left a bitter taste in the mouth – the 2011 Australian Open.
Yes, Andy Murray hoisted the flag upon the banner, charged in to Melbourne screaming like a banshee with nappy rash and, when he turned to survey his fellow soldiers, he found himself alone and surrounded by the rest of the angry world (and a few thousand drunken Aussies shouting and jeering from the stands).
Yes it’s the same old story; something that has become an annual joke at all the majors. At the 2010 Wimbledon Championships the Queen herself returned to SW19 for the first time in 33 years. An avid tennis supporter by all accounts, the British stars were lined up outside to greet her, and Anne Keothavong mentioned that the female stars had spent a lot of time practicing curtseys for the occasion.
It was a damn shame they hadn’t been practicing their tennis, for most of them had been knocked out of the event before she’d been able to get down and seen them play.
Now this year, on day one, five of them fell flat on their faces, failing to take a set between them, with Keothavong even failing to finish her match due to illness. Heather Watson was facing Victoria Azarenka, so few gave her much of a chance, but most expected better than the one game she managed to take off the world No.3.
Laura Robson only took two games in a defeat to Jelena Jankovic, whilst Elena Baltcha fell to Stefanie Foretz Gacon and, in the men’s draw, James Ward went down in straights to Blaz Kavcic.
The Aussie temperatures are currently hotter than 364 of the British days a year combined, but somebody must have thought of warm-weather training to acclimatise beforehand?
These are dire times in deed for British tennis, even by our standards, and yet again we must hedge all our bets on the shoulders of Murray.
Watson and Robson are still both teens and tipped to go far, but if they don’t push on and develop over the next few years it looks like staying that way for a long time yet.