Wimbledon 2014: Andy Murray feels pressure has reduced after glory of last year’s victory
The Brit faces Kevin Anderson on Monday
Andy Murray knows all about the pressures of the second week of Wimbledon, having made it to the fourth round or better seven times in a row, but after winning the title last year he says it is different this time around.
“Obviously, I’m still feeling the pressure and the nerves, but this year they are completely different – I like having the nerves and I’m able to use them positively,” Murray said yesterday as he made final preparations for his fourth-round meeting with South Africa’s Kevin Anderson on Monday.
“I think, after winning it last year, the pressure of wanting to win was finally released. I had worked very hard for a long time in order to get myself into a position where I was able to win.”
Members of the boy band One Direction, who have been coming here to watch Murray’s matches, could swap notes on fame with the world No 5. “I have a lot of respect for anyone that has to deal with that level of hysteria and fame,” Murray said.
“I’m still quite fortunate, I can often put a cap on and walk my dogs with Kim and go relatively unnoticed. I can’t imagine what it would be like if every time I left the house there were crowds of screaming fans.”
Murray has won his first three matches without dropping a set but today represents another step up in class. Anderson, the world No 18, who uses his 6ft 8in frame to hit some huge serves and is one of the most improved players on the men’s tour, is relishing the chance to play in the fourth round here for the first time.
Amélie Mauresmo, who began coaching Murray less than three weeks ago, is clearly making a contribution to the Scot’s relaxed frame of mind.
“She’s a very calm person but also incredibly supportive, so naturally that helps me,” Murray said. “She’s also a great listener. If I have any concerns, she’ll listen to them and then we’ll work through them in practice.
“She has been over to the house a few times but she’s not living with us. I think it’s quite important to try and give each other space, particularly during the Grand Slams, as you can spend a lot of time together.”
It has taken time for the British public to take Murray to their hearts, but it is clear that his popularity has soared since his Wimbledon triumph last year. “It’s safe to say I’ve been asked for more selfies in the last 12 months than ever before,” Murray said.
He has seen only clips from last week’s BBC television documentary about the 2013 final and the public’s reactions to his victory, but said: “Some of the stories were hilarious, and it’s great that so many people were supporting me.”
Murray said he had been particularly touched by the story of Esme Macintyre, an 18-year-old girl terminally ill with cancer whom he had met after his first-round match last year. She died on the afternoon of his victory in the final.
“She was a lovely girl and it was a pleasure to meet and chat with her and her family,” Murray said. “Although Esme didn’t get the chance to see me lift the trophy, for the family to be able to use my win as something positive to enable them to cope with the incredibly sad event of losing Esme makes me happy.”
Anderson, who earned the chance to face Murray by beating the fiery Italian Fabio Fognini in five sets, has never played on Centre Court. He went into the stadium yesterday to try to get a sense of what it might feel like this afternoon.
“Even if you take the match out of it, it will just be amazing to play there,” the 28-year-old South African said.
“Everybody talks about the walk going out there. There are not many people in this sport who get to do that. And then you add it’s the fourth round, we’re into the second week of the tournament, and it’s up against the defending champion, from Great Britain. It will be a great experience – but at the same time I am going there to win the match.”
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