IT WAS not just an impatient Britain that thought it was Andy Murray’s time to win Wimbledon 12 months ago.
His final opponent Roger Federer did, too. And now Federer believes Murray poses the greatest threat of any rival as the grass-court grand slam begins.
Murray last year became the first British man to reach the Wimbledon men’s singles final for 74 years and won the first set, but Federer went on to win in four and lift the trophy for the seventh time.
Murray did not have to wait long to gain revenge, thrashing Federer in the Olympic final four weeks later and then winning his first grand slam title at the US Open in September.
Federer said yesterday: “I thought Andy was going to win a big one anyway at some point. He’s too good to always keep losing semis and finals. He’s put himself too often in that position time and time again.
“Somehow I thought it was going to be Wimbledon before the finals last year. I thought this was going to be it for him. I was able to fight that off and play a good match.
“I was happy with the way I played, but I was happy with the reaction that Andy showed as well. Because in previous years, the one time I beat him in the Australian Open final, he went on a bit of a disappointing run after that.
“That wasn’t the case after Wimbledon last year. He actually got much stronger. That’s why he increased his chances now by winning big tournaments. He did so at the Olympics, the US Open. Now he’s the favourite every tournament he goes into around the world.”
Federer had no hesitation in picking Murray, a potential semi-final opponent, as the player he fears most at Wimbledon ahead of Rafael Nadal or world No 1 Novak Djokovic.
“I think Murray played great last year throughout Wimbledon and the Olympics, and now again at Queen’s,” he said. “So, for me, he seems like maybe the most natural on this surface. But then the other guys are already Wimbledon champions, Rafa and Novak. But, to me, Andy sort of stands out a little bit over the others.”
As is tradition for the reigning champion, Federer will open proceedings on Centre Court today against Romania’s Victor Hanescu. A decade after he won his first grand slam title at Wimbledon, the 31-year-old is hoping to extend his record for singles grand slam titles to 18.