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
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
News
i100
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
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.

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin