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.”

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
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.

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?