Hello everybody and here we go again. Boy oh boy, I love Wimbledon. It’s just special and what a feeling for Andy Murray walking out on to Centre Court this afternoon, day one and here comes the defending champion.
He’s up against David Goffin, the world No 104 from Belgium, but you know what? It’s not Goffin who matters today. If I were Murray’s coach I would sit him down before he went out and talk to him straight.
“Andy, I don’t give a shit who you are playing today – you are playing against yourself. Don’t worry about the score, let the umpire keep the score. You go out there and compete. Play every point, fight for every goddamn point for the next week, two weeks, how ever long. Don’t stop fighting, my boy. You’re a scrapper, Andy, but don’t give a damn who you’re playing, go out and play your game, Andy. It’s about your game.”
This has got to come from within himself. For a player at this stage of his career, a coach is not going to have an effect on his game in just a few weeks. He has got to believe he is a Wimbledon champion, he cannot have any negativism. He has got to feel he is capable of repeating what he did last year. Can a coach teach you that? No.
The pressure will be there and the expectation will be even greater – he’s won it once, can he do it again? I would block out all the press, not read a single word and I would say to myself, ‘play one match at a time, look at who is across that net from you and take them down one at a goddamn time’.
How about Murray’s game? That operation he had on his back at the end of last year looks like it’s done the business. Murray depends on his movement. He is one of the best movers and he seems to be just about back on track. We know that he returns well, in fact he returns about as well as anybody on the tour. He’s a good volleyer, a damn good volleyer. I believe he will have to do a lot more of that to come through again.
It is very important that our boy does not drift back too far behind that baseline. Last year he was really cooking, getting forward and hitting balls on the rise, and he also came in a lot. Play it again, Andy.
Murray is in good touch but what seems to be the talk on the street is his serve. It’s not the first serve, it’s that second one. When you have a serve that is not at the very least neutral but actually puts you on the defence that is not a good sign. This year his stats stand at him winning 52 per cent of his second serves and that is not high enough. He needs to improve that second serve – or even better get more first serves in.
You know what? He should go bold, be a little braver in the second serve even if that costs a few double faults. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do to win Slams. I would hit out, don’t be conservative.
So I know where you want me to go now – hey, Nick, what about Amélie Mauresmo being Andy’s coach? Well, first of all a bit about the man who sat up in Murray’s box last year. Ivan Lendl made him a fierce competitor, taught him not to gripe, not to mope or moan and groan. No one could compete more, no one was meaner than Lendl and he helped give Murray a little bit of that edge.
As for Mauresmo, no one knows what’s going to happen with this new partnership and anybody who tells you “oh this is going to happen or that” is talking good old bull. Let’s give it a chance. I would never make a judgement before giving people an opportunity to show what they can do.
We should give Amélie a chance to prove herself. But right now it has to come from within Andy Murray.
Today’s big game: Andy Murray vs David Goffin
British Nationality Belgian
27 Age 23
London Residence Liège
6ft 3in Height 5ft 11in
Right-handed Plays Right-handed
No 5 World ranking No 104
28 Career titles 0
$31.5m Prize-money $972,264
37-7 Wimbledon record 2-2
Winner (2013) Wimbledon best Third round (2012)
0 Head-to-head 0
Bolly’s prediction: Murray in straight sets
Heather’s on a roll, but only Serena can beat Serena
Heather Watson is very happy and that is so good to see from someone who has spent plenty of time out at my IMG Academy in Florida.
She has made a dedication to stay off the telephone, Facebook and all that bullshit. She has had a good week, getting to the semi-final at Eastbourne, and will come into Wimbledon on a bit of a high.
Heather has impressed me recently and what has impressed me most is the hard work she has done with her new coach, Diego Veronelli. Man, have they done their time on the practice court.
Heather moves extremely well, hits the ball on the rise and has improved her serve. She is not afraid to come in but above all she has made a commitment to play tennis. I am very proud of what she has done. She has been working her ass off and that hard work has paid off and she can make some progress here.
There are some good young players around in the women’s game – Eugenie Bouchard is one to watch at Wimbledon – and I would expect that to be a feature of the next week, but my odds-on favourite would certainly be Serena Williams. If she’s healthy there are not many who can beat her, although there are still those occasional days when Serena beats Serena.
But you never know in a Grand Slam, you just never know, and Maria Sharapova is full of confidence after winning the French.
There is one guy in the men’s draw who could learn one hell of a lesson from Sharapova. Everybody’s talking about Grigor Dimitrov. His mentality is catching up with his ability to hit shots on the court. If his mentality gets to be like Sharapova, who refuses to lose and sticks in there and doesn’t give up one damn point unless you wrestle it off her, then he will be dangerous.
If you go through the men’s list there is plenty of danger out there.
Ernests Gulbis is dangerous, so’s Marin Cilic and watch out for Milos Raonic – he can knock you out. Philipp Kohlschreiber is playing well and Kei Nishikori is another guy to look out for.
And then there’s the big three, Djokovic, Nadal and Federer – wouldn’t it be something if Federer could go out and win this tournament? So there are six to eight guys who can knock you out. It’s going to be a good one.