Andy Murray taking off to refuel ahead of Olympic return to Wimbledon
HAD ALL gone according to plan on Sunday, yesterday would have seen Andy Murray hosting a champion’s press conference. Instead, he was consulting the travel brochures and running his finger down the section on ‘getting away from it’ suggestions.
They will need to be of the mini-break variety. It is conceivable that within a month, Murray could be facing Roger Federer again at Wimbledon. If so, history won’t be an extra opponent with which Murray will have to wrestle. The novelty of endeavouring to win a gold medal on the lawns might give Murray some more room to breathe, while the prospect of three-set matches reduces the demands on a body that he admits has taken something of a battering over the last fortnight. And then there’s also the delicate matter of the mind. He admitted yesterday that it would be “stupid” to return to the court too soon.
Providing he can escape the demands of a coach whose first words last Friday evening, after Murray had become the first British male since 1938 to reach the Wimbledon singles final, were “what time do you want to practice tomorrow”, then Murray will today jet off for warmer climes. Rather than Ivan Lendl, Kim Sears, his long-time girlfriend, will be his companion.
Perhaps, Murray mused, he will escape to Miami, where he has a property, or possibly somewhere in Europe. “I could stay at home and just enjoy being at home, but the weather in this country is so terrible I could probably do with getting some sun, and having a bit of time away from the court,” he said. ‘Bit’ is the operative word. The mauve-coloured London 2012 banners were already being pinned to fences and walls at Wimbledon yesterday, replacing the more familiar green and purple livery. The London Olympics tennis competition begins on 28 July and Murray intends to be ready for the challenge. “I need to make sure that over the next few weeks I do all the right things so that I at least have an opportunity, because it would be easy to do all the wrong things just now,” he said. “I have done that in the past. After Australia [when he lost in the Australian Open final to Novak Djokovic] I struggled for a few months, and didn’t do the right things. I need to focus on the next couple of weeks and the preparation and get myself in good shape.
“I said at the end of last year that this year, more than most, is going to be hard, hard on both the body and the mind. You need to be smart with your scheduling. You need to be intelligent. Like right now, I need to make sure I take the right amount of time off. I know my body is not ready to play again, my mind is not in the right place. I need to make sure I take the right amount of rest so I am good to go for the Olympics and with the US Open just around the corner after that, the body is going to be in good shape. Winning an Olympic gold is a big, big goal of mine,” he added. “You see the emotions of the players when they win a medal for their country.”
But first, some down-time. Burrowing your way into the hearts of a nation is tiring work, as is shouldering so many people’s hopes. “I am happy to have been part of it,” Murray said. “It is nice for tennis to be the main story.” The Scot saluted the efforts of Jonathan Marray, who went one better than he had done by lifting a Wimbledon title, in the doubles. “What Jonny did was unbelievable,” he said. “I watched that match and I was so happy for him. It was great, an amazing story, so I hope these couple of weeks will be a boost for tennis in the UK. With me reaching the final, Jonny winning the doubles, it has been the best Wimbledon for a long time from a British perspective.”
While we might reflect on what good has come from Murray’s Wimbledon adventure, and how it could even be worth more than a grand slam title in the long run in terms of the public perception of him, he is the one who has to deal with the disappointment of seeing another opportunity go by.
Lendl was as supportive as he could be in the minute or so Murray said he spent with his coach after the final. It is in the coming weeks and months where the Czech will earn his money. He is one man able to empathise with Murray having also lost his first four grand slam finals. For the time being, he simply told Murray: “Be proud of your efforts and the way you fought.”
Murray’s desolation will have been only partly assuaged by confirmation, supported by yesterday’s London-based newspapers, that his outpouring of emotion on centre court has seen him embraced by a Home Counties audience previously resistant to his charms. For every flint-hearted naysayer, there are 20 ready to praise him for his grace in difficult circumstances. Then there is the sympathy for his plight in being burdened with so much expectation in an age where extraordinary men like Roger Federer are still snaffling up grand slam titles in their thirties.
Murray yesterday acknowledged the new connections made. “I need all the support I can get,” he said, for he knows coming back from another disappointment is going to be the hardest task of his career. He accepts there is only one place where he will be judged in the terms he wants to be judged as a tennis player. The fiercest scrutiny will come at the grand slams.
“That is where I need to play my best tennis,” he said. “Not in the Masters Series, not the 500s, not at Queen’s.”
While an Olympic gold will further enhance his new-found popularity, Murray remains admirably focused on what matters
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Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West