Andy Murray says Wimbledon feels ‘very different’ amid tempered expectations

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The pressure is off for Andy Murray at Wimbledon – and he is not sure he likes it.

The two-time champion is increasingly confident of taking to the court for his first-round match against Benoit Paire on Tuesday but, after a nightmare 12 months battling hip problems, anything beyond that is uncertain.

Murray came through another practice session at the All England Club unscathed on Saturday, and said: “Unless in the next couple of days I wake up and don’t feel good (I’ll play).

“Through all of this, I have to view it very much day by day, just as a process. I’m practising a high level, a high intensity, every day with some of the best players in the world. That’s really positive for me as part of getting better, to compete again.

“I’d like to be playing better. Of course, you notice things that are maybe not quite where you would like them to be or where you remember them being a year ago.”

Practising well and feeling in good enough shape to play have been the least of Murray’s concerns for the last decade at Wimbledon as he carried the hopes of a nation on his shoulders, reaching at least the quarter-finals every year and the final three times.

To be coming in with little expected from him is clearly a strange feeling for the 31-year-old, however thrilled he is simply to be on court again.

Andy Murray
Andy Murray during a Wimbledon press conference at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC handout)

“Wimbledon for me is obviously special for a lot of reasons. I always want to be here competing. It feels a little bit odd coming into the tournament this year. Normally at this stage I feel really nervous, lots of pressure, and I expect a lot of myself around this time of year.

“I’ve always loved that and enjoyed that in a way. It has been difficult, but I’ve enjoyed it, whereas this year it feels very, very different.”

Murray has played three matches since returning to the match court, losing to Nick Kyrgios at Queen’s Club then beating Stan Wawrinka at Eastbourne before coming out second best against countryman Kyle Edmund.

But he still has no real idea how he might fare here, particularly given it is a year since he last played best-of-five-set tennis.

He said: “How am I supposed to tell you how I’m going to feel if I play for four hours in the first match? I can’t answer that question honestly. I wouldn’t expect to play worse tennis than I have. I would expect my level of tennis to improve.”

One of the driving factors for Murray in his lengthy rehabilitation has been the desire for his two young daughters to see him play on the world stage – but that has its limitations.

“I would want them to watch me playing where I’m physically capable of playing properly, at a level that I’d be happy playing at,” he said. “I’m not just going to keep playing for four years or three years if I don’t feel like I can play, I’m in pain, I’m not enjoying it.

“I’m saying that based on the hope that I’m physically good and healthy. If I had to stop tomorrow, I’d be pretty gutted with that because I still love playing, I love the sport. I enjoy watching it. I enjoy the travelling. There’s nothing about it that I’d be looking forward to giving up really.

“So I want to keep playing as long as I can, providing I’m physically capable of doing that.”

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