Andy Murray heading for Olympic showdown with Wimbledon conqueror Federer

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By Andrew Barr

Scots tennis star Andy Murray is guaranteed an Olympic medal if he can defeat Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.  Murray qualified for the last four after winning his game against Spain’s Nicolas Almagro.

“You try not to change too much.  I think that’s one of the most important things. You need to try and stick to the tactics you had when you came out on court,” said Murray after winning 6-4, 6-1.

“It’s difficult but it’s something with experience and age you learn to deal with.

“The crowd make a lot of noise when they come out. It’s great for tennis when you get people like that coming to watch. They were here during Wimbledon as well so it’s good fun.”

The game however was blighted by rows of empty seats which is fast becoming a trend in Olympic events. Outside though, ‘Murray Mound’ was packed.

“I would like to see all the seats full in all of the stadia but for whatever reason they haven’t been,” added the Scot.

“The support inside and outside the stadiums has been great so hopefully over the weekend we will get all the courts packed.

“Centre Court was really busy the last two rounds I have played on there and hopefully they will all be full.  Everyone wants to see that.

“Lots of people want to see the Games, there are lots of people trying to get tickets and it’s not easy so I don’t want to see any empty seats.”

If Murray can overcome Djokovic and Roger Federer wins his own semi, Murray and Federer will return to the court for a tantalising rerun of the Wimbledon final.

Murray lost the Wimbledon final to Federer last month and was memorably decried an “enemy of England” by Daily Mail columnist Nigel Jones for flying the “separatist Saltire”.  It remains to be seen if Murray will change the minds of his southern based critics if he triumphs under the generic ‘team GB’ banner.

If Murray does indeed achieve Olympic success he will join Sir Chris Hoy, whose stunning victory in the men’s team sprint meant the Scot now has five gold medals, equalling the gold medal haul of Sir Steven Redgrave.  Hoy joins Heather Stanning who won gold in women’s rowing and Tim Baillie who won an unexpected gold in the canoe slalom.

Politics

In Scotland there has been a marked increase in the use of the Games by Unionist politicians seeking to make political capital.  Labour MP Douglas Alexander claimed that the opening ceremony undermined the case for independence, whilst former Labour Minister Brian Wilson accused the SNP of leading an “anti-British campaign” after there was widespread opposition to Scots competing in the men’s footballing ‘team GB side’.

The ‘Better Together’ campaign have issued an online calendar of all events that include Scots Olympians.  According to the No campaign website, “The download will automatically input the Scots members of Team GB’s scheduled events into your diary.”  This despite First Minister Alex Salmond having been criticised by Unionists for apparently “singling out Scots” in the same way after he wished our ‘Scolympians’ good luck.

And within minutes of Sir Chris Hoy winning his fifth gold medal, BBC political reporter Andrew Neil was exchanging tweets with former Labour First Minister Jack McConnell on the benefits of being ‘Scottish and British’, Neil described the combination as “magical”.