This is it! Nation ready to roar Andy Murray to Wimbledon title
After 77 years of waiting for a British champ, today we're poised to cheer Andy Murray to victory at Wimbledon. This is your guide to how he's got here, who has helped, what will affect the outcome and why, finally, it could be his year
Sunday 07 July 2013
Andy's up and down year...
Tears on Centre Court after losing the Wimbledon final to Roger Federer, having led by a set to love. "I'd be playing probably the wrong sport if I wasn't emotional. I'm still improving, still playing better tennis, trying to improve, which is all I can do."
At the London Olympics, beats Novak Djokovic in the semi-final, then Federer in the final 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 to take the gold medal. "When I look back on the match, it will be one that I'll look at as the biggest win of my career for sure. It's definitely one of the best matches I played."
Wins a Grand Slam event at last by defeating Djokovic in an epic five-set final at the US Open. "When I was serving for the match, there's a sense of how big a moment that is in British tennis history."
Is third in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year and winner of World Breakthrough of the Year at the Laureus World Sports Awards. OBE in the New Year Honours for services to tennis.
After beating Federer in the semi-final of the Australian Open, loses final to Djokovic in four sets. "The first few times I played for a Grand Slam, I definitely struggled with it. Now I feel more comfortable."
Buys Cromlix House near his native Dunblane for £1.8m, planning to turn it into a 15-room, five-star hotel set to open in 2014.
After retiring with a back injury during the Italian Open, withdraws from the French Open. "It's a really tough decision, but after seeking medical advice, I am not fit to compete."
Breaks down on BBC, recalling the shootings at Dunblane school. "You have no idea how tough something like that is. It's just nice being able to do something the town is proud of."
Reaches his second successive Wimbledon final by defeating Jerzy Janowicz after a row about closing the Centre Court roof. "This year has been a little bit different because there is a lot of expectation."
Reasons to be cheerful
1. He's relaxed
Murray admits that he was seriously nervous in his first Grand Slam finals, but by the time of the Australian Open in January was much more relaxed about it.
2. Home support
In tweets and interviews, he has urged the crowd to get behind him, hoping to recreate the atmosphere of last year's Olympic final.
3. Record against Djokovic
Murray can look back on fine wins against his old friend and adversary in their only meeting on grass – at the Olympics – and in the US Open final last September.
4. He's on form
Taking advantage of the defeats suffered by Nadal and Federer, Murray has overcome his few setbacks and shown the character to recover when starting slowly and falling behind in his last two matches.
5. Fred Perry's legacy
Since Perry, inset, completed his Wimbledon hat-trick in 1936, every Briton has had a huge incentive to emulate him. With each passing year the opportunity to make history grows.
Reasons to be fearful
1. He's tense
The expletives undeleted during the quarter-final and his outburst about closing the roof on Friday evening suggest the tension still gets to him.
2. Home support
When does great support become great expectation? When it's a Briton at Wimbledon. The pressure builds and can easily become suffocating.
3. Record against Djokovic
Djokovic leads 11-7 in their head-to-heads, winning the last three meetings – the Australian Open final, and ATP finals in London and Shanghai; taking seven of 10 sets.
4. Djokovic is on form
The No 1 seed was also in cruise mode early on and had not dropped a set until losing two tight ones in his epic semi-final with Juan Martin del Potro.
5. Fred Perry's legacy
History as a burden; emulating the great man proved too much for any number of Brits, and after five successive semi-finals remains a monkey on Murray's back.
How we learned to love Andy
Wasn't it only a year or so ago that Andy Murray was an aggressive, surly, graceless loser? Now it is positively heretical to question him. Are we victims of PR spin? Well, yes and no. If he has grown into greatness, we too have learned. For one thing, the Great British TV-watching public has understood at last that professional tennis players who want to be winners are unlikely to be blessed with a foppish Corinthian indifference to triumph or defeat. You don't see off Federer and Djokovic by accident. So while a love of the amateur prompts us to ask what Alan Bennett calls "the English question" ("but is he nice?"), we are prepared to forgive a little more.
And in any case, he is nice. People realised, weirdly late in the day, when he cried after defeat in last year's final that he is both human and magnanimous. But his minders – notably Simon Fuller – have met us halfway too. There was the BBC documentary three weeks ago which showed the smiley, lovable, off-duty Andy. And nobody has stopped his friend Ross Hutchins telling us what a rock of support Andy has been in helping him confront cancer. And, for good measure, Murray donated his £75,000 winnings from the Queen's tournament to the Royal Marsden Hospital. Of such things are heroes made.
Team Murray: How will be in Andy's corner today?
Ivan Lendl, coach since January 2012
Kim Sears, partner since 2006
Keith Erskine, Andy Murray's uncle, a club golf pro recently working in the US, now back in Scotland
Keith's wife, Karen
Simon Fuller, founder of XIX management team
Jamie, Andy's elder by 15 months, his first on-court opponent and the Murray family's first Slam winner (Wimbledon mixed doubles with Jelena Jankovic in 2007)
Alejandra Gutierrez, the Colombian wife of Murray's brother, Jamie – they married in 2010
Judy, mother, childhood coach and now Great Britain's Fed Cup team captain
Leon Smith, close friend, and coach from the age of 11 to 15, when Andy won Junior Orange Bowl and five ITF Futures events, now Great Britain's Davis Cup team captai.
Ross Hutchins, his closest friend and Davis Cup team-mate, who is battling Hodgkin's lymphoma
Rob Stewart, his website manager
Mike Bender, a physiotherapist recently brought in to help him with his back problem;
His father's partner, Sam Watson
Johan de Beer, his physiotherapist
Jez Green, who oversees his fitness and nutrition programme
Matt Little, his strength and conditioning coach
Daniel Vallverdu, a close friend and his main hitting partner
Matt Gentry, a publicist who works for XIX.
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