Andy Murray ready for next stage as Wimbledon approaches

 

Winning Wimbledon was not the beginning of the end, insists Andy Murray, but the end of the beginning.

When the 27-year-old strides out on Centre Court a week on Monday to begin his 2014 campaign he will be bidding to become the first British man to win the singles title for a whole 12 months.

Seventy-seven years, Fred Perry, a source of national embarrassment and international amusement, all consigned to history with a netted Novak Djokovic backhand.

It was a career-defining moment, and will continue to be so whatever Murray goes on to achieve.

The sporting high to end all sporting highs, but also a potential problem. How on earth could he follow that?

Marion Bartoli realised she could not and retired a month after her surprise triumph.

For a while Murray struggled, too.

"I spoke to Ivan (Lendl) a little bit about it," the Scot told Press Association Sport.

"Maybe because everyone was saying, 'It's completely normal to have that feeling', I in a way accepted, ' Okay, that's how I'm feeling'. I don't think I genuinely really felt that way."

Murray's inner competitive fire has compelled him to go through gruelling training camps, to try to wring every last drop out of his talent.

As he wrote in his recent book - called Seventy Seven, naturally: "There is a relentlessness that goes with being me. I have a sense that what I do is never good enough."

Murray chose to wipe the slate clean by giving himself another challenge, recovering from back surgery.

"It wasn't until I decided to have the surgery - I didn't have to have surgery, I could have just carried on with the problem with my back - that was when I really decided that I needed to get it better and move on with the rest of my career," he said.

"Wimbledon's done for now and I can enjoy that when I've finished playing. The day after the surgery it was, 'Okay, I need to get better. How am I going to do that?' I wasn't thinking, 'Oh, I won Wimbledon, I don't need to do all the proper rehab'.

"I really made sure I did everything properly and tried to come back as quickly as I could."

It has been a year of change for Murray.

But while the back surgery was his choice, splitting from coach Ivan Lendl was not.

After just over two years, one Olympic gold medal and two grand slam titles, Lendl decided he no longer wanted to dedicate the necessary time to continue their partnership.

Murray had hoped to finish his career with Lendl and his initial reaction was somewhat akin to that of a jilted lover.

But the Scot, who has teamed up with Amelie Mauresmo for the grass-court season, continued his theme of moving on.

"That's just part of it," he said. "It was almost fitting in a way that it was the last tournament we won together.

"Both of us, when we first agreed to work together, if someone had said, these are the tournaments you're going to win, I'm sure both of us would have been very happy with that. It's just time to move on now."

Murray has never watched the three hours and nine minutes that it took for him to defeat Djokovic on that glorious summer afternoon.

He has seen the mammoth last game a couple of times but mostly the fortnight is rendered a blur by that which came after.

"The only day really of the tournament that I remember is the final," he said.

"When I think back, that's the match that I would go back to. I do spend quite a lot of time at Wimbledon so each time I go back there you have those memories.

"I remember how I was feeling on the morning, the nerves and stuff. I remember the immediate aftermath of the match and the match point, which is strange because when somebody asked me about it for about a week afterwards I couldn't really remember anything until I watched it on TV a few times. Now those are the two things I remember."

For two weeks Wimbledon is the place where Murray is under the full glare of a nation's attention, but for the rest of the year it is the opposite.

Somewhere he goes to sit and take a breath, to step off the tennis treadmill for an hour or two and soak up the peace and quiet of tennis' cathedral.

Centre Court holds special memories, of course, and for the past year a permanent reminder of his greatest day.

Up on the scoreboard have stayed the names of Murray and Djokovic and the numbers he will never forget - 6-4 7-5 6-4. Well, sort of.

Murray, never a man to let a good story get in the way of the facts, said: "It's a plastic sheet, it's not the actual scoreboard.

"It's nice to see but the best thing is when you walk to the court they have all of the winners from years and years ago, and to be on that wall with those players, that's special."

Wimbledon is a place where the past is very much present, but for Andy Murray, it is about the future.

PA

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