ANDY Murray has revealed he is using a sports psychologist to toughen up his mental approach to the game.
In advance of his Wimbledon final clash with Novak Djokovic this afternoon, the World No 2 said that speaking to a female sports psychologist allows him to leave his off-court concerns behind and concentrate on “smart tennis”.
The move to take psychological advice on board was suggested by his coach Ivan Lendl, under whose guidance he won his first grand slam at the US Open last year, as well as an Olympic gold medal.
Murray told tennis website thetennisspace.com that he used the psychologist to discuss issues not related directly to the sport – adding that it had also helped to improve his people management skills.
“I’ve been using it more for psychology rather than specifically just sports, to talk about loads of things that go on away from the tennis court,” he said. “Knowing how to speak to people and manage situations a bit better too.”
He said he started using a sports psychologist last year when he began discussions with Lendl over becoming his coach.
“He asked if I used a sports psychologist,” he said. “I said no. He asked if I was open to it. I said yeah, that I was always open to try things, try new people.”
Murray, who beat semi-final opponent Jerzy Janowicz in four sets on Friday, said he had been able to return to one of the “best attributes” of his youth – using mental tactics to improve his game.
“When my mind’s clear, I can go on the court and play, not worry about anything else,” he said.
“The US Open was a good example of that, where I didn’t play my best throughout the tournament, but I played smart tennis.”
Yesterday, Murray visited the Wimbledon practice courts to hone his game before this afternoon’s final and spent some time writing autographs for excited fans.
Back in his home town of Dunblane, the air of expectation grew as Murray prepared for his second consecutive Wimbledon final.
Wimbledon sausages were continuing to sell well from a butcher’s and shop windows were festooned with Murray images, tributes and good luck messages.
Children practised hoisting signs for a public big-screen viewing in the Dunblane community centre. In Edinburgh last night, long-term sponsors RBS Group projected a giant image of the star on its buildings in St Andrew Square.
Meanwhile, Murray’s grandfather Roy Erskine, 81, said: “We’ll be watching on television. Wimbledon is a great event and it’s marvellous to see Andy getting to the final again. The last few rounds have been nail-biting but it’s been lovely to see our whole family sitting in the front row supporting him.”
Murray’s uncle Niall Erskine said: “There’s no doubt that Andy has become mentally tougher in recent years, and his fortitude this week has been phenomenal.”