ABU DHABI AND DUBAI // Andy Murray's shot at Wimbledon greatness lifted fans' spirits and hopes as he squared off against Andy Roddick last night. But in the end - when the Scot fell short in four sets after being tied one-all - they were left with only a familiar feeling of disappointment. The elusive prospect of having a British man in the final was again just out of reach.
"I'm absolutely gutted," said Phillip Brown, a British expatriate who watched the match at the NRG sports bar in Abu Dhabi. "He should have won. He was under too much pressure from the UK crowd; he was in a Henman-type situation. The crowd didn't support him for the first two sets, not until his back was to the wall." His words were echoed by Katheryn Roberts: "It's sad. It wasn't his day, and [he was] unlucky to have missed shots. The UK will be upset - it's been a long time since we've had a winner, and a lot of hope was pinned on him. At the match point, the crowd were expecting him to fight back. It's a shame. The expectation had got too much."
Fans can at least console themselves that Murray will be back next year and, at the age of 22, he has plenty of time to capture the crown the country wants so badly. Murray supporters had arrived at the bar hours before he was due on court, to soak up the atmosphere and secure the best seats to view the big-screen televisions. Ross Broadstock, a business development manager, was in ebullient mood before the game, saying: "He should win, no problem. I will be delighted if he wins, watching tennis all my life, and it's the moment I've been waiting for.
"It will mean more to Scotland, but probably everyone will want to play tennis for the next three months. There will be completely over-the-top celebrations in the UK." In Dubai, there were similar scenes at the Studio One sports bar in the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah, where fans holed up to watch the match. "It's a British thing," said Andy Jarvis, 35, who left his native UK five years ago. "We haven't been in the finals since 1938, so I'd like to see him put the UK back on the international map. It makes us look good. "I was never interested in Wimbledon when I was in the UK but I think Brits are patriotic, especially when they are away from home."
Sadie Coughlan, 34, a recruitment consultant who has been in Dubai for a year, said: "I grew up near Wimbledon and it was a big part of my summer. I used to watch it at home. We are all away from family and friends here, and it is nice to have that common ground and feel the connection despite the distance." Ben Craig, 27, a teacher and fellow Glaswegian who moved to Dubai a year ago, said: "He's a fellow Scotsman, so I just had to come out with my friends to celebrate. He has a great attitude and is very good. I normally watch Wimbledon at home, because it signals the start of the summer. My mum and sister will be watching it back in Scotland and some friends back home have brought big TVs into work - I imagine a lot of offices will be shutting early today."
Mr Craig was planning to return to his homeland today and added: "I will be back in time to see Murray given a hero's welcome when he returns to Glasgow, whether he makes it to the final or not." firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com