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Tennis: Murray poised to end Britain's 77 years of pain
LONDON: Andy Murray will begin his campaign to end Britain’s 77 years of Wimbledon hurt Monday, buoyed by his tearful defeat in last year’s final and shrugging off a minefield of a draw.
Fred Perry won Britain’s most recent Wimbledon men’s title in 1936, the year the Spanish Civil War started and Jesse Owens spectacularly defied Hitler and the Nazis at the Berlin Olympics.
Twelve months ago, Murray was defeated by Roger Federer in the final, a loss which ended with the Scot in floods of tears on Centre Court.
However, he then returned to the All England Club to claim Olympic gold before winning Britain’s first men’s Grand Slam title in 76 years when he triumphed at the US Open.
“I think the Wimbledon final last year was important for me,” said Murray, the world number two.
“I got back on the practice court five, six days later and I felt great; whereas when I’d lost in slam finals before well, you saw my results for a few months afterwards. I hadn’t dealt with it particularly well.
“A combination of that final and the way I played in it, and also having the Olympics to look forward to, I think that was the period that changed me, changed my mindset a bit.” Murray, 26, heads into his eighth Wimbledon, with a third Queen’s grasscourt trophy under his belt and free of the back injury which forced him to sit out the French Open.
However, the draw has not been kind to him with seven-time champion Federer, and two-time winner Rafael Nadal, fresh from a record eighth Roland Garros title, both in his half of the draw.
He will start his campaign on Monday against Germany’s Benjamin Becker who he defeated at Queen’s.
Djokovic, the 2011 champion, faces Germany’s Florian Mayer, who he defeated in the quarter-finals last years.
The 26-year-old top seed hasn’t played a grasscourt warm-up, opting to rest after his marathon five-set loss to Nadal in the French Open semi-finals.
Djokovic beat Nadal in the 2011 final for his only Wimbledon title.
“The draw is something that you cannot affect. So I honestly wasn’t thinking about it too much because it’s a matter of luck and it’s a matter of a coin toss, as well,” said Djokovic.
“It’s a Grand Slam, so I don’t think that there is any easy way to the title.”
Federer, meanwhile, the holder of a record 17 majors, can become the first man to win eight Wimbledon titles and go one better than Pete Sampras.
But he will be 32 in August; Sampras won the last of his Wimbledon titles as a 28-year-old in 2000.
An eighth victory for the Swiss would make him the second oldest champion at Wimbledon in the Open era, just behind Arthur Ashe who was six days short of his 32nd birthday when he triumphed in 1975.
Federer, who is celebrating the 10th anniversary of his first Wimbledon title, insists that he can approach the tournament free of worry.
“Ten years ago I went into Wimbledon with so much pressure, even though I had lost in the first round the year before,” said Federer, who faces Romania’s Victor Hanescu in his opener.
“In terms of needing to prove my point that I was a legitimate Grand Slam contender, I had incredible pressure. Now, ten years later, I know Wimbledon, I know my way around and what I need to do to perform well.”
Nadal, the 2008 and 2010 champion, played down his chances of a third title in London even as he was still celebrating his historic eighth French Open victory.
The Spaniard is worried over how his left knee will cope with the strains of the grass courts, a fear prompted by his bitter-sweet relationship with the tournament.
Nadal had to skip the 2009 championships through injury while, 12 months ago, he was sent packing in a second round shocker by 100th-ranked Czech Lukas Rosol.
That shattering defeat forced Nadal off the tour for seven months and he missed the Olympics as well as US and Australian Opens.
“Last year I played here because it is a tournament that I love, but I was not ready to play,” said the 12-time major winner, whose first round opponent is Steve Darcis of Belgium.
“After Roland Garros I felt that my knee was not there anymore. After here I was not able to complete in one more tournament during the rest of the season.” AFP