US Open champion, Olympic gold medallist and last year’s Wimbledon runner-up Andy Murray may have the weight of a nation on his shoulders, but that isn’t keeping the hometown hero from expressing confidence about the opportunity for success at the All England Club this year.
For Murray, the No. 2 seed, the chance to compete at the Championships for another Fortnight may have its pressure-filled moments, but he also discussed his excitement, especially in light of his breakthrough US Open victory and Olympic gold medal. “The mindset is similar in that, you know, I come in wanting to try and win the event,” he said. “I’ve prepared as best as I could. I think in some ways, I feel that I’m putting less pressure on myself.”
In fact, he cited the two wins as a transformative experience for his career. “A combination of that [Wimbledon] final and the way I played in it, and also having the Olympics to look forward to,” he said, “I think that was the period that changed me, you know, changed my mindset a bit.”
While the expectations linger at Wimbledon and may be even stronger than before given the maiden major victory, Murray talked about his personal drive to succeed on the grass of the All England Club. “This tournament obviously means a lot to me. That was pretty obvious after the final last year,” said Murray, alluding to the emotional loss at the hands of 16-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer and his choked up on-court speech after the four-set loss.
He added, “I just think, because of what’s happened since then that if I can manage to get myself in the latter stages of the tournament I’d be better equipped to deal with the pressures that go with that.”
But while he’s had to “deal” with such pressures, Murray’s also soaked up – and enjoyed – the experience of competing. Looking back to his career of play at the All England Club, he reminisced, “When I played here as a senior for the first time, I mean, I actually almost wasn’t nervous. I was so excited to really play here.”
Murray continued that when he first competed at Wimbledon “there was no pressure. There was no expectation at all.”
Now, however, it’s a little different. “There’s a lot more pressure and a lot more expectation, a lot more nerves.” He added, “I think for all British players, yeah, it’s a huge part of their career.”
But Murray also considers his time at Wimbledon to include some of the highlights of his career, having reached the semi-finals or better since 2009. “I’ve always enjoyed playing here,” he said. “I’ve played some of my best tennis here over the course of my career.”
Regardless, said Murray, hailed as the greatest chance to bring home another Wimbledon singles crown for Great Britain since Fred Perry in 1936, “There’s still the excitement.”
Murray faces Benjamin Becker of Germany to begin his 2013 campaign. Looming ahead in his section of the draw? Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to put myself in a position where [their placement in the draw] becomes relevant,” said Murray, “because that would mean getting to the semi-finals.”
He added, simply, “I’d love to be there.”