Wimbledon 2014: Andy Murray ‘in best shape possible’ to deal with the pressure of title defence

 

Wimbledon

Pressure? If Andy Murray thought he had experienced it all last summer when he ended 77 years of British disappointment by winning the Wimbledon men’s singles title, he was reminded of the nation’s continuing expectations here yesterday. The 27-year-old Scot had barely settled into his seat in front of the world’s media before he was asked how it felt, in the wake of England’s World Cup exit, to have “the hopes of a despondent nation” on his shoulders.

“Wow,” Murray said, taking a mock intake of breath, much to the amusement of all present. “Wow. To be honest, I don’t feel too much different than I did a few days ago. I’m here to try and win the tournament. That’s it. My focus is solely on the first match, preparing properly for that.”

It is a Wimbledon tradition that the defending men’s champion is one of the last players to hold a pre-tournament press conference but the first to appear on court. Murray will begin the defence of his title against Belgium’s David Goffin, the world  No 104, on Centre Court at 1pm this afternoon.

The 12 months since his greatest triumph on the same stage have been an up-and-down time for Murray – he has not won a title since, spent more than three months out following a back operation and parted company with his coach Ivan Lendl before bringing in Amélie Mauresmo as a replacement – but his recent run to the French Open  semi-finals suggested he is finding form at the right time. Most importantly, his back is feeling better than it has for a long while.

“I feel ready,” Murray said. “In practice I have been hitting the ball well and I have played OK. There are a few things I could do a little bit better, but that was the same thing last year. It has been the same case for many of the years when I have gone into Wimbledon.

“I’m moving well and my body feels good. It’s not sore, so it is down to me to perform and to play well. No player knows how they are going to perform until they get out there on any given day, but I’ve prepared pretty much the best that I could.” Andy Murray has not won a title since parting with Ivan Lendl after his triumph at Wimbledon Andy Murray has not won a title since parting with Ivan Lendl after his triumph at Wimbledon

Champions automatically become members of the All England Club and Murray feels more at home here than ever. Regular dealings with Tim Henman, who is a committee member here, have helped. “I’ve communicated to him a lot of the things that I liked and the things that I didn’t like – things that could be changed or done better,” Murray said. “Having somebody to talk to about those things helped.

“This is also where I have played the most important tennis matches of my life, out on that court. Obviously, it’s going to mean more to me as my career has gone on. Nowadays it’s a place I like going to because it’s quiet. I like to go to Wimbledon to practise sometimes, but sometimes I just go there for lunch or just to be there. It’s quiet. It’s a place where I can go and I don’t get bothered. I can think there. I like it.”

Read more: Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon 2014 Files

He added: “It’s obviously nice coming back and seeing your name on the wall because there’s great history attached to the tournament. Most of the greatest players who have ever played have won here. That’s the nicest part about it. It’s something no one can take away from you. You’ve won one of the greatest tournaments in tennis.”

One thing Murray has not done too much of in the last year is cash in on his success. Some champions exploit their financial potential to the full in the wake of such a triumph. Murray announced a deal last week with Standard Life, whose logo will appear on his shirt, but otherwise he has had a quiet time commercially.

“There have been quite a few offers but for me it’s about doing the right stuff and working with people who understand what my goals are and what I am trying to do,” he said. “It is very easy to sign five or six deals, but I want to play tennis and concentrate on trying to win more. It is not only the people in my team. The companies I work with have to understand that as well.

“The last week, for example, has been incredibly important for me to prepare properly and train properly and practise. I don’t want to give up loads of my time this week. For a lot of those companies, that is a bit off-putting because this is the time of the year that they want to be doing loads of things. Some players are fine doing a lot of things the week before a Slam, but that’s not for me. I’m happy with the way things are going.”

Murray is happy, too, with the fact that Wimbledon is not the only major event currently topping the sporting agenda. “I enjoy it when the World Cup is on,” he said. “It gives me something to do in the evenings. I don’t have to listen to people talking about me playing at Wimbledon.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
The Manchester United team walk out ahead of the pre-season friendly between Manchester United and Inter Milan at FedExField
News
i100
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
News
media
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
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.

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz