Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Dossier: Lay off the hype and allow Murray to bloom

Explosive British teenager has plenty of potential but excessive pressure and expectation will hinder his development
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The Independent Online

Andy Murray is a kid who did a very good job against David Nalbandian on Saturday. No question. But the salient word is "kid". He's just starting out. Wimbledon was one tournament. In global terms he isn't anyone, yet.

That would be my first message to all British tennis fans. Lay off the hype. Concentrate on your own jobs. If you're an accountant, do your accounting. If you're a bus driver, drive your bus. Don't look at one short period in one young man's life and assume great things about his future that will only lead to pressure and expectation he doesn't need.

My second message is look after him. Or rather let those who know him best - his mum, his coach, those close to him - look after him. His team is vital now, giving him the support he needs - physical, technical, emotional - to cope with the next important steps to build on a good start.

They have decisions to make about who will be his full-time coach, if anyone. And how best to keep his body - which is still growing and still vulnerable - in the best condition. Everyone else should be delighted that British tennis has an exciting player with potential, and then back off.

On Saturday, there were lots of positives. Murray has a good double-handed backhand, a huge forehand and a solid serve. He can volley. There's the basis there - with the emphasis on basis - for an excellent all-round game. He also has an explosive personality, which is a change from gentleman Tim.

Tim Henman has set a magnificent example of how to compete at the highest level for many years. But so much has been expected of him that maybe the huge pressure has contributed to making it impossible for him to meet those expectations. Hopefully, the force of Murray's personality will help him handle that better, and hopefully the pressure anyway will not be too intense, too soon.

On that note, I actually believe the defeat to Nalbandian could prove to be a blessing. If he'd won, the explosion of hype, pressure and expectation - way beyond rational thinking - might well have proved detrimental.

And let's also not start getting hung up on the fact that he held a two-set lead and let it go. Nalbandian's a veteran of many tennis wars. His greater experience and endurance won the day. No one threw anything away out there. Nalbandian won a five-set match. That's Grand Slam tennis.

I also wouldn't worry about Murray's tiredness. Of course, he needs looking after, with attention to diet, fluids, training and stretching. But I wouldn't discount the stress of what he's been through in recent weeks being a factor in his condition. It would be understandable if nerves played a part. No two players are alike. Everyone develops at their own pace, with their own problems and solutions. Let Murray develop, then we can talk about how good he is.

Time for the big guns to fire

I expect Roger Federer, Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt to win today, using their respective class, power and counter-punching to progress. Federer will be a big test for Juan Carlos Ferrero, who was a lost soul for a while and is likely to find that the Swiss champion has too much for him in all departments. Hewitt comes up against Taylor Dent, who is the closest thing that either the men's or women's tour has to a pure serve and volleyer. Taylor has to ask himself whether coming in, all the time, is the right strategy against a guy who's going to counter-punch and keep passing him. It's going to be a tough match, and I think Taylor's going down. Roddick is up against Guillermo Coria, who loves the tempo of clay and the slower hard courts, but his game, on grass, should suit Roddick perfectly. Roddick's massive serve will win a lot of points, meaning more pressure on Coria to hold his own from the start. Roddick in four. As for Mario Ancic against Feliciano Lopez. Intriguing. A huge forehand and great volleys against new-found love of grass. I'm taking the fifth amendment. Toss a coin.