Can Murray keep the media onside?

Hannah Marriott asks four sporting publicists how they would advise Britain’s new number one tennis player

Just as Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski near their career swansongs, British tennis fans have a new idol in Andrew Murray.

Expectation around the 18-year-old Scot, who last month became the British number one, is being fuelled by a voracious media appetite.

Unlike Henman, Murray is unpredictable – sometimes controversial in his views, at other times lethargic and mumbling in press conferences. 'It's important to remember that he is not actually that outspoken, as sports stars go – it's just that we are used to our most recent tennis stars being quite safe,' says Mace Sport MD Paul Mace.

Since the start of the year, Murray has been represented by his agent, Patricio Apey, of The Ace Group. Before that, he was a client of Octagon Marketing. In January he was criticised for blaming media pressure for his defeat by Argentina's Juan Ignacio Chela in the Australian Open. 'You don't think there's any pressure on me? We're going to have to disagree,' he told reporters. 'If you guys don't think you're putting pressure on me, that's fine – I'll forget about it.'

Other controversy includes his joke that he and his opponent 'played like women' at the Heineken Open in Auckland, and his claim that the Lawn Tennis Association's Cambridge Academy  damaged his brother Jamie's career.

Despite all this, the media's feeling towards Murray is largely positive. According to The Guardian tennis correspondent Steve Bierley: 'It is refreshing that he is open and honest. He has an
attitude, but sometimes you need that. I hope he doesn't change.'
Bierley adds: 'We must remember  he's only 18. Getting an 18-year-old to analyse anything can be difficult'.

Ian Monk, who handles PR for fiery footballer Wayne Rooney,  argues that Murray's relationship with the media is bound to be tumultuous as his career progresses.

'He may find himself simultaneously lionised on the back pages and pilloried on the news pages,' he says. 'The hopes raised by his every win will be blown out of proportion by the sports writers, while every aspect of his private life will come under occasionally prurient scrutiny from news writers keen to dissect and debunk his celebrity.
The spotlight will be relentless.'

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