Andy Murray took time to reach his peak – now he must work out how to stay there

 

In all those years when he appeared to be on the brink of greatness but could never quite make the final leap, Andy Murray kept insisting that he would not be playing his best tennis until he reached his mid-twenties. How right he was.

At 26 the Wimbledon champion is the holder of two Grand Slam titles and is the reigning Olympic champion. The world rankings say that Novak Djokovic is the best player on the planet, but Ivan Lendl, Murray's coach, is not the only one who might contest that claim.

As befits a player who never ceases to work on his game and his fitness, Murray's progress, from the day he won his first senior match at Queen's Club eight years ago, has been steady but relentless. He has taken time to scale the heights – since Arthur Ashe won Wimbledon in 1975, only the 29-year-old Goran Ivanisevic has been an older first-time champion at the All England Club – but now that he is there the future holds the promise of many more such moments.

Murray knew from his early days on the Tour as a wiry young man prone to cramping that he would not peak physically for a good few years. "When I first came on the Tour I wasn't particularly strong," Murray reflected last week in the wake of his historic Wimbledon triumph. "I was weak, if anything. I had the game, but you can't work so hard in the space of a year that you just become massive and unbelievably fit. It takes time to build that up. You'll get injured if you work too hard too soon.

"I knew that when I got into my mid-twenties I'd be fitter and that's helped. It's also about maturing. I wasn't that mature when I was 18 or 19. I was still young and I was struggling to deal with some of the things that came with it. Now I'm dealing with it much better."

Murray even took his time to develop a desire to win Wimbledon. "When you're growing up, some people say, 'I want to win Wimbledon.' But you don't really understand what that means until you get there and you're playing in the event.

"It would have been when I was around 18 or 19 that I started to think a bit more about it. When I played at Wimbledon for the first time I got a taste of it. That was when I really wanted to win it."

Now that he has climbed the summit Murray faces the challenge of staying there. Although the succession to the current Big Four is far from clear – the likes of Grigor Dimitrov, Bernard Tomic and Milos Raonic have all threatened to make breakthroughs but have yet to realise their potential – Murray expects that the competition at the very top will remain as fierce as ever.

Djokovic, who is one week younger than the Scot, is likely to be a major rival for years to come, and the Scot believes it is far too early to dismiss the chances of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

"Rafa came back and made nine finals in a row, won the French Open and for sure he wasn't 100 per cent fit when he was playing at Wimbledon," Murray said. "He's 27 and if he stays healthy then he's going to be at the top of the game for a long time. He has a great record against everyone at the top of the game.

"I think Roger will stay there or thereabouts in all of the Slams, maybe just not as consistently as he was in the past, because it's impossible to keep that up for so long.

"The fact that he did it for 10 years was amazing."

Murray said he had no target in mind for the number of Grand Slam titles he might win in the future. "I just want to try to win the next one," he said. "I hope that's how it is for the rest of my career. I just don't see a point in setting a number on it. I just want to try and win the next Grand Slam I play in and prepare for each one like it's my last.

"I'm competing against some of the best players ever. I've played them many times and had some great matches with them. I'm just happy that I've been able to win some of these tournaments."

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future
Berlusconi's world of sleaze: The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM

Berlusconi's world of sleaze

The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM
Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

Films and theme parks are just the beginning. Disney believes its control of the now decades-old franchise can bring in merchandise and marketing millions for years to come
Could the golden age of the gaming arcade ever be revived in the era of the Xbox?

Could gaming arcades be revived?

The days when coin-ops were the only way to play the latest video games are gone. But a small band of enthusiasts are keeping the button-pushing dream alive
Edinburgh Fringe 2015: The 'tampon tax' has inspired a new wave of female comedians to reclaim period jokes

Heard the one about menstruation?

Yes, if you have been at the Fringe, where period pieces are taking centre stage