Wimbledon

Murray unfazed by pressure

2011-06-18 06:49
Andy Murray (File)
London - Andy Murray insists he can cope with the pressure of being Britain's only hope of ending 75 years of hurt in the men's singles at Wimbledon.

It would be understandable if Murray looked a little burdened when he launches his title campaign at the All England Club as the Scot will be carrying the weight of a nation's expectations on his shoulders.

With the rest of men's tennis in Britain still lagging way behind Murray, the world number four will be out on his own as he tries to become the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.

For the next two weeks the 24-year-old can expect to be front page news in the national media as his every move is analysed and debated.

Tim Henman, the last serious British contender for Wimbledon, took years to get used to that kind of suffocating pressure and was known to feel uncomfortable during his time in the spotlight at the grass-court Grand Slam.

Murray, however, has a more relaxed attitude to the extra stresses that come with leading the challenge for a country that develops a rapacious appetite for tennis success for the two weeks of Wimbledon then ignores the sport for the rest of the year.

"Dealing with the public's expectations has never been an issue for me," Murray said.

"I grew up watching Tim Henman a lot so I knew that if I was to get to that level, it was something I must expect.

"It wasn't something that came as a great surprise and the more years you are around it, the better you know how to deal with it.

"It's part of the job and part and parcel of being a sportsman in this country.

"It's never an excuse for playing badly, you just have to do your job and get on with it."

At least Murray's confidence going into Wimbledon is sky-high after he won the annual warm-up event at Queen's Club for the second time in three years.

The quality of Murray's play in his Queen's semi-final demolition of Andy Roddick was higher than at any time in his career and he followed that imperious victory with a gutsy fightback to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final.

It was a remarkable transformation considering Murray turned up at Queen's just seven days earlier nursing serious concerns over an ankle ligament injury suffered at the French Open.

Still troubled by the ankle, he thought about pulling out of the tournament after his second round match. But opted to play through the pain and the injury is now almost healed.

"Winning Queen's has helped my confidence heading into Wimbledon. I got in four matches on the grass and it's definitely very good preparation," he said.

"I'm not sure if this is the best I've felt heading into Wimbledon, but it's definitely the best I've felt in the last two or three months. Hopefully by the time Wimbledon comes round I'll be in 100 per cent shape."

Although Murray has faith he can win Wimbledon, he has fallen short in his three previous Grand Slam final appearances -- including this year's Australian Open -- and has also been beaten in the semi-finals at the All England Club for the last two years.

Murray, who is seeded fourth, knows that to win Wimbledon he is likely to need to beat at least two of world number one Rafael Nadal, six-time champion Roger Federer and 2011's form player Novak Djokovic.

That means endless hours on the practice court before the nation fixes its' gaze firmly on him once again.

"Winning Queen's didn't crank up my own expectation levels and that's what's important," he said.

"We knew what the goals were for the grass court season when we went to Queen's and that hasn't changed just because I won there.

"I need to get back on the practice court, work hard and get myself ready for Wimbledon, which is the priority."

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