Bullish Murray talks up victory chances
Scot will probably need to beat previous Wimbledon conquerors Roddick and Nadal to lift men's title
You could tell the start of the 125th Championships was only three days away here yesterday.
Click here to upload graphic: Seven Steps to Silverware: Who Murray will probably have to conquer to win Wimbledon
There was a regular stream of competitors along the walkways between the locker rooms and the practice courts, pasta was in high demand in the players' restaurant and by the middle of the afternoon steady rain was falling out of a leaden sky.
It was also raining in the tranquil gardens of Stoke Park in Buckinghamshire, where Andy Murray was playing his final warm-up match at The Boodles exhibition event. The world No 4 was leading Serbia's Viktor Troicki 4-1 when play was called off for the day.
Nothing, however, will dampen Murray's spirits as the 24-year-old Scot looks ahead to his home Grand Slam tournament, even if yesterday's draw meant that he may have to beat both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the only men who have won the title here since 2002, if he is to become the first Briton to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936. "I am going into Wimbledon with the feeling I am going to win – you can't go in with any other attitude," Murray said.
"Obviously I would have liked to have played more. Another set and a half would have been great but I was lucky to get the matches in at Queen's last week so today was just about getting some decent points in.
"I've played well in the last few matches, I've played well at Queen's and now I've just got to get myself in the right frame of mind and hopefully I'll do well. You've got to focus on that, not get too far ahead of yourself and not put too much pressure on yourself."
The draw did little to contradict the view that this Wimbledon, like so many of the biggest tournaments over the last three years, will boil down to a showdown between the four men who have come to dominate the sport in recent times. At the recent French Open Nadal, Federer, Murray and Novak Djokovic became the first top four seeds to contest a Grand Slam tournament's semi-finals for five years when they met in the last four. It would be no surprise if they faced each other again here in 13 days' time.
Federer's first-round drama last year against Alejandro Falla, who won the opening two sets, tells you never to take anything for granted, especially on grass, but provided the big guns are not spiked in the early stages it is hard to see them misfiring before the latter stages. Nadal, the defending champion, could face the biggest threat in the shape of a third-round meeting with the big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, who has hit more aces this year (479) than any other player.
You could make a case for any of the big four to win. Nadal, the world No 1, has claimed the title twice in the last three years and has just defended his French Open title successfully. Djokovic, the world No 2, has been the player of the year so far, his only defeat coming in the semi-finals at Roland Garros against Federer, the world No 3, who is always the man to beat at the All England Club. Djokovic and Federer are seeded to meet again in the semi-finals.
As for the home hope, Murray has just won the Aegon Championships at Queen's Club and enjoyed the best clay-court campaign of his career, culminating in a run to the semi-finals in Paris for the first time.
If he is to become the first Briton to reach the final here since Bunny Austin in 1938 Murray may have to beat the two men who have denied him in the semi-finals in the last two years. In the quarter-finals the Scot is seeded to meet Andy Roddick, who denied him in 2009, and in the semi-finals he could face Nadal, who beat him at the same stage last year and in the quarter-finals three years ago.
Roddick, however, is not the force he was, as Murray demonstrated by playing the 28-year-old American off the court at Queen's last week, while Nadal often brings the best out of the Scot, even if both their previous meetings at the All England Club ended in straight-sets victories for the Spaniard.
Daniel Gimeno-Traver (world No 56), a Spanish clay-courter, and either Slovenia's Blaz Kavcic (No 75) or Germany's Tobias Kamke (No 87) should give Murray a reasonably comfortable reintroduction to the All England Club's grass in his first two matches. His opening match against Gimeno-Traver is likely to be the third match on Centre Court on Monday.
Marin Cilic, who knocked Murray out of the US Open two years ago, would offer a step up in class in the third round but has lost their other five matches.
Stanislas Wawrinka, who accounted for Murray in New York last year, is a potential fourth-round opponent, though Richard Gasquet, who is seeded to meet the Swiss in the previous round, could be a bigger threat. The Frenchman, who has recovered much of his old form in recent months, featured in one of Murray's most memorable matches at the same stage here three years ago, when the Scot came back to win from two sets down.
Murray, nevertheless, knows all too well that he should look no further than his first-round match. "It's not worth thinking about Rafa and the semi-finals," he said. "Going into the first match I have got to make sure I am focused. Rafa last year had quite a few tough matches early on. Roger had a big scare against someone you wouldn't have expected him to have a tough match against. You need to be switched on from the first match and I will be."
While Murray will share the burden of the home crowd's interest with three of his fellow countrymen it would be a surprise if he is not the lone British man come the second round. James Ward, the British No 2, has been drawn against France's Michael Llodra (world No 25), Dan Evans faces Germany's Florian Mayer (No 18) and Dan Cox meets Ukraine's Sergiy Stakhovsky (No 35).
How the other Brits fared in the draw...
James Ward (aged 24, world No 176) v Michael Llodra (France, aged 31, world No 25)
Ward excels on grass and enjoyed best week of career in reaching Queen's Club semi-finals last weekend, after which he rose to career-high position in world rankings. Llodra, a big-serving left-hander, has never gone beyond Wimbledon second round in 10 attempts.
Dan Cox (aged 20, world No 272) v Sergiy Stakhovsky (Ukraine, aged 25, world No 35)
Cox has reached his highest place in world rankings thanks to improved results on Futures and Challenger circuits. Stakhovsky, who lost to Andy Murray in 2004 US Open boys final, has made good progress in last 12 months but has never won a main-draw match at Wimbledon.
Dan Evans (aged 21, world No 305) v Florian Mayer (Germany, aged 27, world No 18)
The talent of Evans has long been evident but his attitude and his commitment have been regularly questioned. Mayer, whose unconventional style can flummox some opponents, has never won a title on main tour but reached final in Munich this year.
Wimbledon Men's Draw
*GB unless stated, seeding in brackets
Top half of the draw
R Nadal (Sp) (1) v M Russell (US)
P Andujar (Sp) v R Sweeting (US)
G Muller (Lux) v T Haas (Ger)
F Fognini (It) v M Raonic (Can) (31)
J M Del Potro (Arg) (24) v Qualifier
O Rochus (Bel) v Qualifier
F Gil (Por) v D Sela (Isr)
Qualifier v G Simon (Fr) (15)
M Fish (US) (10) v M Granollers (Sp)
P Kohlschreiber (Ger) v D Istomin (Uzb)
R Haase (Neth) v P Riba (Sp)
R Stepanek (Cz Rep) v F Verdasco (Sp) (21)
J I Chela (Arg) (25) v Qualifier
D Young (US) v A Bogomolov Jr (US)
Qualifier v J Benneteau (Fr)
F Volandri (It) v T Berdych (Cz Rep) (6)
A Murray (4) v D Gimeno-Traver (Sp)
T Kamke (Ger) v B Kavcic (Sloven)
S Stakhovsky (Ukr) v D Cox
I Ljubicic (Croa) v M Cilic (Croa) (27)
R Gasquet (Fr) (17) v S Giraldo (Col)
I Kunitsyn (Rus) v Unknown
Unknown v Unknown
P Starace (It) v S Wawrinka (Swit) (14)
G Monfils (Fr) (9) v M Bachinger (Ger)
Unknown v R Kendrick (US)
A Clement (Fr) v Unknown
I Karlovic (Croa) v J Tipsarevic (Serb) (23)
T Bellucci (Br) (30) v R Schuettler (Ger)
F Lopez (Sp) v M Berrer (Ger)
J Pospisil (Cz Rep) v V Hanescu (Rom) Unknown v A Roddick (US) (8)
Bottom half of the draw
D Ferrer (Sp) (7) v B Paire (Fr)
I Dodig (Croa) v Unknown
C Berlocq (Arg) v Unknown
A Golubev (Kaz) v G Garcia-Lopez (Sp) (26)
A Dolgopolov (Ukr) (22) v F Gonzalez (Chile)
Unknown v R Ramirez Hidalgo (Sp)
G Dimitrov (Bul) v Unknown
Unknown v J-Wilfried Tsonga (Fr) (12) (above)
N Almagro (Sp) (16) v J Nieminen (Fin)
J Isner (US) v N Mahut (Fr)
S Devvarman (India) v D Gremelmayr (Ger)
J Monaco (Arg) v M Youzhny (Rus) (18)
D Nalbandian (Arg) (28) v J Reister (Ger)
F Serra (Fr) v A Haider-Maurer (Aut)
A Mannarino (Fr) v Unknown
M Kukushkin (Kaz) v R Federer (Swit) (3)
R Soderling (Swe) (5) v P Petzschner (Ger)
K Nishikori (Japan) v L Hewitt (Aus)
I Andreev (Rus) v T Gabashvili (Rus)
Unknown v N Davydenko (Rus) (29)
F Mayer (Ger) (20) v D Evans
X Malisse (Bel) v M Zverev (Ger)
E Gulbis (Lat) v D Tursunov (Rus)
A Falla (Col) v J Melzer (Aut) (11)
V Troicki (Serb) (13) v M Gonzalez (Arg)
Y-Hsun Lu (Taipei) v T Robredo (Sp)
R Mello (Br) v Unknown
J Ward v M Llodra (Fr) (19)
M Baghdatis (Cyp) (32) v J Blake (US)
A Seppi (It) v A Montanes (Sp)
K Anderson (SA) v I Marchenko (Ukr)
J Chardy (Fr) v N Djokovic (Serb) (2)
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