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The Draw: 30 June

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Sunday, 2 July 2017 13:49 PM BST
Family man Murray fit and ready to roll
Andy Murray reveals he and wife Kim are expecting a second child - and confirms his Wimbledon preparations are on track READ MORE

The pressure of being the hunted is only compounded when a niggling hip injury throws your preparations into disarray days before your Wimbledon title defence begins.

Such is the predicament in which Andy Murray finds himself.

Not to diminish the stresses of entering a Grand Slam as defending champion for a third time, the Scot’s concerns have been tempered somewhat with recent news he and wife Kim are expecting their second child.

An added stress in his juggling act? Quite the opposite.

“No. I wouldn't have thought so. We're both obviously very happy and looking forward to it,” he said, having made the news public on Sunday.

“I've had family the whole time I've been playing tennis, so yeah, I'll be fine dealing with that. It's certainly not a distraction in the slightest.”

Murray’s preparations leading in were less than ideal. He fell in straight sets to Australian world No.90 Jordan Thompson in the opening round at Queen’s Club, the sixth time this season he has fallen to a player outside the top 20.

He subsequently withdrew from two exhibition matches at the Hurlingham Club last week to give himself his best shot at being fully fit.

The signs are increasingly positive since returning to training.

“The last few days have been very good,” he said. “Practice each day has got a little bit better. It's been slightly stop-start preparations, but each day I've felt better.

“But a little bit like at the French Open, where maybe I didn't come in as well prepared, I still found a way with each match to feel a bit better, and built confidence each day. So, you know, I'm hoping that's the case here.”

Since assuming the year-end No.1 ranking in 2016, Murray has had a torrid time of it. The weight of now being the hunted is a whole new pressure and has only been compounded by a string of niggling ailments. He suffered a fourth-round boilover against Mischa Zverev at the Australian Open and has subsequently battled shingles, an elbow complaint and his current hip issue.

A run to the French Open semi-finals, however, was the Scot’s most promising showing of the season and a reminder he could play himself into form during a Grand Slam.

“I'll be fine to play the event and play seven matches,” Murray said. “If I feel like I am today, I'd be delighted and have no issues getting through.

The last few days have been very good. Practice each day has got a little bit better

- Andy Murray

“You know, if necessary, I can take some anti-inflammatories if my hip flares up. Hopefully that's not the case.”

Both times Murray has attempted to defend his Grand Slam titles, he fell rather convincingly at the quarter-final stage – to Stan Wawrinka in the 2013 US Open and to Grigor Dimitrov at Wimbledon 2014.

This time he feels better placed to mount a more successful defence.

“Yeah, obviously a little bit more experience, a bit older now,” Murray said. “Hopefully I'm able to deal with things better this time round.

“But, I mean, really once you get out there, I don't feel like I'm coming in trying to defend something. I'm going out there trying to win Wimbledon again. I want to try to win the competition.

“Maybe adds a little bit of extra pressure. Maybe a few more nerves especially at this slam with the way the scheduling is, that you're the first one out there on Centre Court. You know, you feel like you're opening up the tournament a little bit, and that adds a few more nerves.”

They’re the kind of nerves top athletes revel in channelling into success. Murray admits if he didn’t feel this weight of pressure at his home Grand Slam he would be concerned.

“I'm not sure I'd be wanting to keep playing if that was the case,” he said.

“I want to be nervous. I want to feel the pressure at these events.”

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