Murray ready to make his mark at Wimbledon
Andy Murray believes he is ready to make Wimbledon history by becoming the first British man to win the grass-court Grand Slam for 73 years.sports Updated: Jun 22, 2009 11:20 IST
Andy Murray believes he is ready to make Wimbledon history by becoming the first British man to win the grass-court Grand Slam for 73 years.
Murray starts his bid to emulate Fred Perry's 1936 triumph when he faces America's Robert Kendrick on Tuesday and the Scot is beginning to feel like this could be his year.
In the space of 12 months, Murray has gone from a pretender to a serious contender for all the major titles.
His last Wimbledon appearance was a brutal lesson in the harsh realities of life at the top as Rafael Nadal bludgeoned him into submission over three brutal sets in the quarter-finals.
That defeat, coming so soon after a dramatic fourth round victory over Richard Gasquet, was a hammer blow to Murray's pride. But the 22-year-old simply ramped up his fitness regime to help match Nadal's physical power and Roger Federer's sublime all-court game.
The results have been eye-catching. Murray has risen to third in the world rankings on the back of five ATP Tour titles this year, including his first grass-court victory at Queen's two weeks ago.
His deadly accurate serve and astute ground-strokes have already claimed Nadal and Federer's scalps this year so, understandably, Murray is quietly confident of enjoying a fortnight to remember in south-west London.
"I feel like I'm better equipped to win a Grand Slam this year than I was last year," he said. "I have a chance of winning, but I understand how difficult that is to do.
"I'd obviously love to win here. I enjoy playing on grass and I love playing at Wimbledon.
"Like I said, I feel like I'm ready to win a Grand Slam now, whereas last year I might not have been. But I understand how difficult it is. It's not an easy thing to do.
"Federer's made the last six finals of Wimbledon and he's the big favorite going into the tournament.
"I've never won a Grand Slam before but I think I've got a chance of doing it here.
"I need to play my best tennis ever to do it. It's not like it's gonna come easily. Slams don't come easily, and I'm sure the guys that have won them will tell you that. I understand how big a challenge it is."
Murray's cause would be helped if he can harness the support of the Wimbledon crowd, who have never embraced the Scot with anything like the passion they showed for Tim Henman.
With 'Hen-mania' firmly consigned to the history books, Murray is the only hope of a British success story, yet his sometimes surly demeanour earned him few fans at his first few Wimbledons.
He is a far more engaging character now however. Last year's victory over Gasquet was the first occasion when the crowd really got behind him and he is hoping for more of the same this year.
"I did watch quite a few of Tim's matches the last few years of his career and the support was great," Murray said. "Anytime you can play in front of a home crowd in any sport it is a huge advantage.
"In football and basketball, home court or playing a home match is huge. I view tennis as being the same thing. You've got 15,000 people behind you here.
"Tim, I'm sure, played some of the best tennis of his career here. I think the crowd had something to do with that."
Murray's path to the final looks far less daunting now defending champion Nadal has pulled out with knee tendinitis as the pair were due to meet in the semi-finals.
Even a potential final with five-time champion Federer would hold few fears for Murray, who leads their career meetings 6-2. But the Scot has no intention of getting ahead of himself.
For now Kendrick is the only player he is worried about.
"He has a big game. He plays very aggressive and takes a lot of chances so there's no chance of me underestimating him," Murray said.
First Published: Jun 22, 2009 11:17 IST