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What the papers say

Andy Murray hits a forehand in practice
by Clive White
Monday 24 June 2013

In an interview with Andy Murray under the headline, "Murray: I might never win Wimbledon”, Simon Briggs, of The Daily Telegraph, quotes the British No.1 as saying: “The players around right now are so good and so consistent that it’s going to be a tough tournament for me to win. I’ve thought about finishing my career and not winning Wimbledon and I’m comfortable with that.”  Those who know Murray well would be surprised if winning the US Open and the Olympics but not his home Grand Slam would really sate the Scot’s appetite for success.

Mike Dickson, of the Daily Mail, comes to the conclusion that arguably the most difficult era ever to win the gentlemen’s singles at The Championships might present Britain’s Andy Murray with his best chance this year because key rivals have form and fitness issues. “There is nothing in the way he moves, hits the ball or his form in this environment – he has won 17 out of his last 18 matches on grass – to suggest that he cannot beat them all,” argues Dickson.

Laura Robson, the British No.1, puts her new-found happier frame of mind partly down to sharing a passion for golf with her new “coach” Miles Maclagan and watching TV with him in an interview with Simon Briggs of The Daily Telegraph. Maclagan recently succeeded Zrljko Krajan, although the appointment has yet to be made permanent. For the time being he is a described as her “transitional” coach.

“With Miles, we both like watching golf, he’s golf-obsessed,” says Robson. “With Zrljko – he’s Croatian – so it’s like we just didn’t watch any of the same TV. As minor as that sounds, it does make a bit of a difference. With Miles, we are having a laugh I guess. But we’ve had some very good training sessions as well and on court it’s definitely no laughing.”

Neil Stubley, the new head groundsman of the All England Club and a former chef, explains to Jim White, of The Daily Telegraph, how “for him, serving up a perfect set of grass courts is similar to preparing a slow-cooked, 11-month casserole”. Stubley succeeded long-time servant Eddie Seaward after last year’s London 2012 Olympic Games.

Everyone has their own idea of history’s greatest tennis player and the Royal Statisical Society’s sports section has theirs. Sean Ingle, of The Guardian, takes issue with their findings in a piece entitled “Jimmy Connors the best player of all time. Maybe, but Sampras 15th?” The society fed the results of 20,640 Grand Slam matches into “a dynamic paired comparisons model... utilizing barycentric rational interpolation” and Connors came out on top followed by Bjorn Borg, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Novak Djokovic was another anomaly in 10th place.

“Sampras is awkward because during his era he wasn’t beating many other great players apart from Andre Agassi,” said Dr Ian McHale, the chairman of the society. “Added to that he often won close matches, which has harmed him in our model.”

The fears of strawberry lovers and tennis fans that the coldest spring in 50 years might affect the quality – and price – of the fruit at these year’s Championships could not be further from the truth. Caroline Davies in The Guardian writes that because the fruit flowered later than usual it meant that it would peak in late June/early July – just in time for you know what. The strawberries are reckoned to be 40 per cent sweeter and 15 per cent bigger – and a punnet at The Championships will be the same price as last year: £2.50.

The Times and The Independent both carried a story about a research study that showed that athletes who obsess about success were more likely to fail than those who set themselves more realistic ambitions, which resulted in the conclusion that Andy Murray had made the right decision to pull out of the French Open because of his back injury and concentrate on the Championships.

Researchers from the universities of Birmingham and Southampton found that highest achieving athletes were those motivated by enjoyment or for whom attaining a goal was personally important. Results showed that those who were more highly motivated struggled for longer and suffered deeper disappointment when they failed. Those who gave up on the unattainable goals sooner and switched to another task did better overall.

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