Nick Bollettieri: Murray must stay on the ball mentally as the pressure builds

The Wimbledon Files

These two have an interesting history. Two meetings in the Grand Slams, two times Richard Gasquet gets two sets ahead and two times it's Andy Murray who goes through. That has to say something about the make-up of these two guys.

It was in last year's French Open and Wimbledon in 2008 that those matches happened, but there is another factor that adds to the mix since that last amazing match-up on the grass here. The expectation on Murray now is greater coming into this year's event than ever and now we are into the second week – with three rounds safely negotiated – that pressure is only going to ratchet up some.

On paper, Murray is a better player than Gasquet, although the French guy's no slouch. Murray has the game, sure, but it is how he will handle the pressure that will determine what happens to him for the rest of this week.

Holy cow, it's going to be some watch, some week – all these great players involved and some big talents too. I will also be keeping a close eye on Court 18 today where Bernard Tomic, a young guy who could become a star, is taking on Xavier Malisse, an old pro playing the best tennis of his career.

And you know why Malisse is playing so well? He told me that, for the first time in ages, he is absolutely switched on and settled upstairs – and that, I'm telling you guys, is what Murray will have to be too if we are going to still be talking about him come the end of the week. This will be a good test today on Centre. Gasquet has been smooth so far; three matches, no sets dropped. Murray has dropped a set in two of his three rounds. Gasquet has seen off Santiago Giraldo, then Igor Kunitsyn and on Friday he cruised past Simone Bolelli, the Italian wild card, and looked pretty damn good as he did.

He has the weapons. A big first serve – at times it's got more firepower than Murray's – and he's been making his mark with it in his matches so far. His first serve percentage has been pretty impressive: 68 per cent, 62 and 71 in his three matches. Murray's has not been so consistent: 70, 54 and 61 against Ivan Ljubicic under the roof on Friday (incidentally I think the roof being shut suits Murray – but no chance today with this forecast and being first on) and those figures need to climb the deeper we get into the tournament.

Gasquet has a one-handed backhand with an extreme semi-western grip, and that is a sight you rarely see these days. Roger Federer is the modern master of the one-handed backhand, but Gasquet is no slouch, that's for sure, and I like seeing a player deliver this shot well. But there are areas where Murray has the advantage. Gasquet moves well on the whole but he can be a little stiff.

As we come into the second week the balls will begin to bounce higher as the courts flatten out a little, especially with all this hot weather that's forecast, and that helps Murray for this match-up. The longer rallies go on, the better for Murray as he has the better legs. His second serve is also more dangerous and he returns as well as, if not better than, Gasquet.

As I said, on paper Murray is the winner. But he has to withstand that pressure. Let him blow his top if he wants – I don't mind that in a player as long as he maintains that mental discipline that at times slips. Having watched him closely last week, I am much more confident that he can control his emotions and vary his game enough. He certainly has enough to win today.

Today's big match: Andy Murray v Richard Gasquet

British Nationality French

24 Age 25

London Residence Neuchâtel

Right-handed Plays Right-handed

6ft 3in Height 6ft 1in

4 World ranking 13

17 Career titles 6

$16m Career prize-money $5.5m

W26 L5 Wimbledon record W14 L5

Semi-final (2) Wimbledon best Semi-final

W2 L2 Head-to-head W2 L2

1-4 Odds 11-4

Bollettieri's prediction: Murray in four sets

Girls grunt, guys grunt. So why all the hot air about it?

I just don't goddam believe it. It's 2011, isn't it? And I'm still being asked about grunting in the women's game. Let me be blunt, because this is an issue I am sick and tired of: cut the crap and just play the game.

Women grunt when they hit the ball in tennis, men grunt when they hit the ball – hell, Andy Murray does, sometimes – soccer players do it, they do it in baseball, they do it in plenty of sports. It happens but nobody's breaking the sound barrier or going atomic. Let them get out there and play.

I've coached, or helped out, a lot of these guys who people accuse of grunting – like it's some sort of crime – and we've never coached them to grunt. It's just something they do naturally.

Tennis has dealt with this issue. There's two players out there and an umpire. If there's a problem they can deal with it. An umpire can sort it. A player can complain if they don't like the noise coming from the other side of the net. And if those guys can't settle it between themselves then there's the tournament referee.

There are different reasons why players grunt. Monica Seles grunted from the start – when she was at my IMG academy she always grunted, it was just how she hit the ball. She was 11 or 12 when she arrived in Florida and there she was, grunting.

That's generally what it's all about, when you hit the ball you let the air out – you exhale, and for some players that comes out as a noise as they unload all that effort into the shot. Bang – oooff.

Do players use it to try and put off their opponents? Not that I know of. There are plenty of areas that can be used to get under your opponent's skin – look what Marco Baghdatis did against Novak Djokovic on Saturday. Boy, that was a good game to watch. Baghdatis did as I predicted in this column on Saturday morning by playing to the crowd and Djokovic got rattled. His reaction did surprise me, especially given how cool he has been over the past couple of years.

It was fun to watch, though, and that's what watching tennis is supposed to be about, having fun. And talking about tennis, forget the grunting, watch the game. So here's the message to all you fans and writers about tennis out there who are on about grunting – let it be, guys.

Mr B's A-Zee

M is for mind. You got to think to win. All of the ability in the world counts for nothing if you don't have it up top. Think about it – you have to be able to look ahead in a rally and dictate how it develops. And you have to be tough up top for when the going gets hard.



N is for Nadal. Oh boy, what a player. He has the lot on any surface – the serve, the return, you name it – as two Wimbledon titles, one Australian, one US and six French titles by the tender age of 25 amply demonstrate.

Win a Week at my Academy

Want a week's tennis holiday at my IMG Nick Bollettieri Academy in Florida? Included in the prize is five days' top-class tuition. The prize can be for an adult wanting to shape up his or her game, or for a child who wants to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Andre Agassi, Monica Seles and Maria Sharapova, among other players who went from being kids under my tuition to No 1 in the world.

What you have to do is answer this question: Study the order of play and tell me who will be today's first winner, men or women. Send me your answer (and predict the time they will progress, in case we need a tie-break) to: bolly@independent.co.uk and the correct one will win a signed hat or T-shirt.

I'll be putting a different question every day and all the winners will go into the hat for the big prize, to be drawn at the end of the Wimbledon fortnight: a week at the IMG Nick Bollettieri Academy.

Coaching Tip of the Day

The second serve is so important – not least because it means you can gamble more on your first serve. There are four areas to work on, and you should practise each one in turn, concentrating just on that skill before you try and draw it all together. The four areas to improve are: consistency, accuracy, pace and spin.

News
people

Arts and Entertainment
JJ Abrams' seventh Star Wars, The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of Episode VII has gone online after weeks of anticipation
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special
art

Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax

PROMOTED VIDEO
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.

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game