Murray Carries Nation's Hopes

by AFP

Andy Murray insists he can cope with the burden of shouldering a nation's growing expectations that he will finally end the 77-year wait for a British man to win Wimbledon.


Murray was in commanding form once again as he swept into the quarter-finals with a 6-4, 7-6, 6-1 win over Russian 20th seed Mikhail Youzhny on Monday.

The world number two has yet to drop a set in his first four matches and looked more at ease than ever in the All England Club spotlight as he prepares for a last eight clash with Spain's Fernando Verdasco on Wednesday.

With Laura Robson eliminated from the women's draw on Monday, Murray is now the sole remaining focus of the British sporting public and he knows that means endless speculation about his chances of becoming the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.

Losing to Roger Federer in last year's Wimbledon final provoked a tearful response from Murray.

But, after winning the US Open and an Olympic gold at Wimbledon last year, Murray has appeared increasingly in command of his emotions both on and off court and he is in no doubt the pressure won't affect him.

"There's always pressure coming into this event and it builds with each match," Murray said.

"But I've dealt with it well over my career. I've played well at Wimbledon. It's been consistently my best slam over the course of my career.

"So that's partly down to the surface and partly down to enjoying playing in front of a home crowd and being able to kind of block everything else out.

"I work extremely hard to give myself the best chance to do well here.

"I just think the nature of how the tournament's gone, there was a few days there where it was just strange. I think everyone was a bit on edge, a little bit uptight because of what was happening with the injuries, withdrawals, upsets and stuff.

"I felt a little bit more relaxed over the weekend and even calmer before the match today."

Murray admitted he effectively lives in a bubble during the tournament to ensure he doesn't get wrapped up in the inevitable hysteria that builds as he progresses towards the final.

His path to the final this year has been eased significantly by a host of big name exits including Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

But Murray isn't dreaming of lifting the trophy just yet.

"I don't read everything that's getting said and I'm not out and about on the street speaking to people about the tournament," he said.

"I'm with the guys that I work with. I talk to them about each match individually. We don't get ahead of ourselves because you can't afford to do that.

"There's a lot of tough opponents left in the draw. Verdasco's playing very well this week as well.

"He's extremely dangerous when he's on his game.

"I haven't played a left hander the whole year, which I think is pretty amazing six months into the year. I'll try and get a lefty in to serve at me tomorrow."

Murray was forced to miss the French Open with a lower back injury and was seen grabbing at the same area at times during the win over Youzhny.

Murray was quizzed on his fitness after taking longer than usual to appear for his post-match press conference.

But he was adamant there was no cause for alarm because he was taking precautions to guard against any injuries this week.

"I had probably about 20 minutes longer treatment than I had done the last few days," he said.

"Obviously, a few weeks ago I missed the French Open. I don't want it to be a case of things creeping back up on me. I want to take care of my body. It's my main priority this tournament."

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