LONDON—The last time we met for this column, the newsstands of England were in ecstasy. Every paper laid out across their tables featured a photo of Jo Konta exulting in victory.
Today we get the agony. On front page after front page, the leading shot is of Andy Murray wincing in pain.
The Sun, naturally, doesn’t mince words, or even waste any time with puns. Its headline gets right down to the hopeless truth:
CROCKED MURRAY CRASHES OUT AND DJOKOVIC QUITS...IT’S ALL YOURS, ROGER
“Andy Murray hobbled out of Wimbledon,” Dan King writes, “to hand Roger Federer the keys to a record eighth SW19 title.”
The rest of the day’s papers follow suit.
At The Mail, it gets worse from one page to the next. Coverage begins on the back with this simple headline.
But things begin to get more dire two pages later:
MURRAY’S A LOSER IN THE PAIN GAME
“Relief was the overriding emotion when the whole thing was over because the disintegration of Andy Murray had started to make your eyes water.”
Daily Serve—a recap of wild quarterfinal Wednesday at Wimbledon:
By the time we turn to the next article, the Golden Era is about to go up in smoke:
BEGINNING OF THE END FOR THE BIG FOUR
While that headline may be on the alarmist side, there’s no question that it wasn’t a promising day for the younger half of the Fab 4. The Times reported that Murray is mulling hip surgery, while Novak Djokovic, who retired with an elbow injury, is considering taking an extended break from the game.
As Mike Dickson writes in The Mail, “If they do take time out, then it will mean the Big 4, who have carried the men’s game to such great heights in the past 10 years, will all have been obliged to take long breaks in the past 12 months.”
The other papers pick up on the theme of disintegration. The result is a new idea in men’s tennis that you’re probably going to hear a lot about in the coming months: rest.
Greg Rusedski sums up the prevailing wisdom in The Telegraph:
ANDY CAN STILL GET BETTER—BY GIVING HIMSELF A BREAK
“Roger and Rafa Nadal have written the handbook on this,” Rusedski says. “Roger took the second half of 2016 off, as well as the whole of this year’s clay-court season...He also stepped outside the tennis bubble and was able to see his game more clearly.”
Or, as The Sun puts it:
DJOKO MAY GIVE TENNIS THE ELBOW
Sam Querrey spoke with Tennis Channel at the All England Club after reaching the semifinals of Wimbledon:
What about the other guys in action on Wednesday? The shine, it seems, is off last year’s finalist, Milos Raonic.
MECHANICAL MILOS EASY PICKINGS FOR FEDERER
“While Federer is all rubber-wristed subtlety,” Jim White writes in The Telegraph, “Raonic is a foghorn thwack merchant.”
But as Milos’ star falls, that of Sam Querrey, Murray’s conqueror, is on the rise in ways many of us could never have foreseen. Witness this surprising headline:
IMAGINATIVE QUERREY TAKES BIGGEST WIN IN HIS STRIDE
“Against the hampered Murray,” Alyson Rudd writes, “the American seemed energetic, agile, and imaginative.”
For once, a Murray defeat is not the end of the world for the Brits. Jo Konta has helped postpone that for at least one more day, and the papers rally around her:
The Daily Mail front page this morning pic.twitter.com/8urHIxt4M1— Charnwood Radio (@charnwood_radio) July 13, 2017
The Sun pleads...
GIVE US HOPE, JOHANNA
...while The Mail begs:
CAN KONTA KEEP THE FLAG FLYING?
The Times, though, doesn’t seem to have any doubts about her chances. Any opponent reading the headline to its story about Konta’s rise might just want to pack up her racquets and head home now:
SHY 17-YEAR-OLD WITH A ‘WEAK MENTALITY’ IS NOW TWO WINS FROM GREATNESS
In the article, Stuart Fraser pinpoints the turning point for Konta: When she was introduced to “mind guru” Juan Coto. With his help, Konta freed herself from some of the on-court anxiety that had held her back.
“When Jo is happy, she performs well,” Coto likes to say.
All tennis players could use a Juan Coto in their lives, no? Enjoy the Ladies’ semis. The Big 4 may be struggling, but these four women make a pretty cool foursome of their own.