Henman: 'There are times when distractions go on for too long'


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The Independent Online

He does not go along with Virginia Wade's recent description of Andy Murray as "a drama queen", but Tim Henman believes the Scot needs to "remain focused and not get distracted" when things are not going his way.

Having had his own share of back problems, Henman sympathises with Murray's recent physical difficulties, which were most apparent at the French Open when the world No 4 had on-court treatment and was struggling with his movement. "Andy was quite right when he said he wasn't doing it for anybody's benefit," Henman said. "He was obviously in bad shape."

Henman is hoping Murray will be back to full fitness over the next fortnight. "He's got such an enormous challenge competing against Djokovic, Nadal and Federer. That is unbelievably hard even when you're 100 per cent healthy. So if he's only 90 per cent I think that would make that challenge impossible."

Earlier in the year Henman was impressed by what he saw during Murray's run to the Australian Open semi-finals. "I really felt that the way he was dealing with adversity was improving," he said. "I've always said that's the biggest challenge. When he's playing well he can beat anyone, but it's when things aren't going quite so well that he has to dig in, keep his head down, remain focused and not get distracted.

"I think in Australia it was very good. It was difficult during the clay-court season. When you've got other issues going on it's quite difficult to judge. I think the grass will help him. The surface is softer, the ball doesn't bounce so high and the rallies aren't quite so long."

He added: "When you're frustrated and things aren't going your way is the time when it's easier to be distracted. [John] McEnroe was probably the best at that because he would go bananas and shout and scream, but then 99 times out of 100 he would play an even better point next. There are times when I think the distractions that Murray has go on for too long."

Henman believes Murray can benefit from playing an attacking game on grass. "There's a balance between proactive and reactive," he said. "I think grass is probably the hardest surface to defend on, so the needle of the speedometer should definitely be on the attack."

Although Henman lost in four semi-finals at Wimbledon, he always retained belief that he could win the tournament. "I can remember every year going into the tournament and feeling a far better player and more excited about my chances," he said.

"I always had 100 per cent belief and expectation that I could win the tournament. And Andy's in that period right now. He's been in the semis the last three years. His grass-court results have been fantastic, so I expect no difference."

Can Ivan Lendl, Murray's coach, help him across the finish line? "Definitely. That's where I think it's fantastic to have Lendl in his camp. He's got so many valuable experiences and an unbelievable knowledge of the game. I think that's definitely where he's going to have a positive impact."

Tim Henman is an ambassador for HSBC, Official Banking Partner to the Wimbledon Championships, www.wimbledon.com/hsbc