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."

News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits