Murray feeling the pressure of Wimbledon title defence

22 June 2014 / 23:23

Andy Murray ended a near eight decade wait for a British's men's singles winner at Wimbledon last year - and insists he's feeling the same pressure about his own defence.

Murray brilliantly erased a 77-year old stain on Britain's national sporting character 12 months ago, meaning we could finally forget the tales of nearly men and plucky Brits at the All England Club.

For too long the best Britain had to offer in the men's singles was Fred Perry, a name now more synonymous with polo shirts and a player only remembered in black and white photographs and smudgy newsreels.

Murray's Olympic gold meant he'd already won at Wimbledon but now he'd simply won Wimbledon, a subtle difference in wording of infinite significance.

The British number one opens his title defence against 23-year-old Belgian David Goffin on Monday, with national expectations undoubtedly diluted but his personal ambitions only heightened.

And only two defending champions - Manuel Santana in 1967 and Lleyton Hewitt in 2003 - have lost when they've opened the championships on Centre Court the following year.

But Murray's Wimbledon record is impressive - he's reached the last four for the last five years and you need to go back until nine years until the last time he didn't make the second week, a third round elimination in the first of his eight appearances.

"From the public's perspective maybe the expectations are not the same but that doesn't go for myself," he said. "I'm putting myself under pressure to perform. I want to try and win more slams if I can. 

"It took me a long time to win the first Wimbledon title, I'd made three semis and a final before I finally achieved it. 

"Perhaps it's a bit naive to think the second could come around so quickly. I’ll try my best to give myself a chance. I’ve done that quite well over the last few years, so hopefully I can do that again.

“I’m not looking that far ahead, to be honest. With the depth in the game right now, you can’t afford to look past your next opponent.

“However, having won last year can only help me. Having had that experience and gained that understanding what it actually takes to win, will be no bad thing if the chance comes around again."

But the draw has been friendly to Murray, should he come through his opening examination with world number 103 Goffin, clay-court specialists Fabio Fognini and David Ferrer lurk on his side of the draw.

Novak Djokovic, who he beat in last year's final, is a potential semi-final opponent with Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer in the other half of the draw.

The double Grand Slam winner is Wimbledon's number three seed despite being ranked fifth in the world, a fact that should also make his progress a little easier on paper at least.

Unlike other major tournaments, the All England Club combine the world rankings with grass court form to produce their seedings list - and Murray is certainly not complaining.

"To be honest I think the way they do it is correct with the seedings," he added. "Some people might say that because my seeding's obviously moved up, but there are so few tournaments on grass now that there are so few points up for grabs on the surface that it is in a way a specialist surface.

"Some guys will only play one tournament a year on grass. I think it is relevant the way the players perform on it, in terms of the seedings and how deep guys can go in the event.

"I like the way they do the seedings but some people don't. However, being seeded third is definitely better than being seeded fifth.

"However, I don't tend to look too far down the draw, it's not very respectful for all the great players out there. We've seen plenty of surprise results over the years at Wimbledon."

Murray has appeared relaxed during practice sessions with new coach Amelie Mauresmo at the All England Club and there appears a new calmness to his preparations that have always been previously overshadowed by burden of history.

"She's good fun but it takes a few days before we'll probably start cracking jokes," he adds.

"I'm enjoying the sessions we've been doing. It feels like we are doing the right things and I like how she thinks tactically and how she studies matches and opponents. It's all still new but it's exciting. If I lose in the first round at Wimbledon, it certainly wouldn’t be her fault.”

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