AN OUTBURST by Andy Murray during his heavy defeat by Grigor Dimitrov was sparked by the match being brought forward an hour at just five minutes’ notice, according to reports last night.
The 27-year-old champion left photographers puzzled before the start of the third set when he was heard to shout: “Five minutes before the f***ing match!”
Wimbledon was awash with rumours yesterday that this could refer to a disagreement with girlfriend Kim Sears or new coach Amelie Mauresmo.
But it now seems likely he was referring to the short notice he was given by officials before being expected to go on Centre Court. Play began at noon instead of 1pm in a bid to catch up with the schedule of games delayed by rain.
In his BBC blog, Murray said: “The timings changed a bit.”
But mother Judy Murray yesterday said she was “not aware” of any distractions her son might have had that could have resulted in his poor performance. He lost in straight sets: 6-1, 7-6, 6-2.
When asked if Murray had been distracted by anything before the match, Judy said: “No, not that I’m aware of.”
She told BBC Radio 5 Live: “Every athlete can handle losing if they’ve played well or played their best and I think when you’re on such a big stage as this, and especially when you’re defending your title and it’s in front of your home crowd, it is so difficult to take, that you haven’t managed to find close to your best form.”
Speculation about a split in the team or a disagreement in the Murray household has been quashed by both the Murray camp and Tim Henman, a long-time friend of Murray well acquainted with the pressures of playing at Wimbledon.
Yesterday, Henman was sceptical of the “five-minute” theory.
“I don’t buy that,” he told The Scotsman. “Where’s that come from? A couple of photographers.
“Five minutes? When you put into the context of what he did last year and that last game, [how] he came through that and his mental fortitude and how tough he is and how hard he works, five minutes? What is it? I don’t buy it.
“I’ve spoken to some of his team and there’s [been] nothing about five minutes before.”
Henman added: “The way that he went out to play, he had every opportunity. He’s not one to make excuses. I just don’t buy it. I think it’s rubbish, I really do.”
Matt Gentry, managing director of 77, Murray’s management company, said the champion had simply played a poor match. “Andy played a bad match and Grigor played well, nothing else to it,” Mr Gentry said yesterday. “He had a bad day at the office.”
Murray’s assessment of the situation was equally simple: he needed to work harder and play better. Last September, he had back surgery and then spent three months recovering from the operation prior to his comeback in January. He has said he knew it would take months to get back to full physical fitness and get enough matches under his belt to be “match-tight”.
“I need to go away and make a lot of improvements in my game,” Murray said. “I’ve lost a couple of matches in the last few slams where I’ve lost in straight sets and played poorly.”
In the next few days he will analyse the Dimitrov match with coach Mauresmo and they will decide if they wish to continue their sporting relationship – her appointment is for the grass court season only.
Murray will then be back at work in the Miami heat preparing for the American hard-court season and the US Open.
Last night Ken Way, a sports psychologist, claimed it would be “absolutely ridiculous” if Murray had been given just five minutes’ notice.
He said: “It absolutely would have had an effect. Professional sportsmen at that level will have a set routine and preparation just before going out to play. You would expect at least 30 minutes’ notice.
“He could have been doing anything, listening to music or reading a paper. If that is what happened, I’m flabbergasted.”