Andy Murray is, I believe, the best grass court player in the world, bar none.
He proved it during his 18-match unbeaten run in winning the Olympic Gold medal in 2012, last year’s Queen’s Club title, and then the big one, Wimbledon.
That does not mean, however, that I think Andy will successfully defend that hard-won trophy. Taking everything into consideration, I have to make Novak Djokovic my favourite.
There is basically only one reason for this the back surgery that Andy went through last autumn. I don’t think Murray is yet back to 100% physically.
I’m not a medical expert in any way, but I do have experience of back surgery. The whole procedure takes its toll, and full recovery can take well over a year.
There were signs at the French Open that Andy was back to his best in terms of shot-making.
Some of Murray’s play in Paris was magnificent, and it was by far his best performance on clay. However, by the time he got to the semi-final, Murray’s body had had enough.
Forget the beating by Nadal. The severity of the scoreline was due to Andy’s physical exhaustion. It was one match too far.
It did not surprise me that the Scot then went out early at Queen’s Club to Radek Stepanek. It would really have been better for Andy to have had that week off.
After his exertions in Paris, what Murray needed was three or four days of relaxation, without picking up a racket, just to re-charge his batteries.
Andy has done an amazing job to get his form back as quickly as he has done. Every week should bring an improvement in his core fitness.
However, the way Andy plays essentially as a counter-puncher who relies a great deal on his defensive ability he needs to be at the very peak of condition to beat a player like Djokovic.
Murray is scheduled to meet Djokovic in the semi-final. I think the winner will be the Wimbledon champion.
Oddly enough, I believe it will be harder for Andy to retain the title than to win it for the first time.
You might think that shedding the burden of 77 years without a British champion would release the Scot from all the pressure he was under. I don’t see it that way.
The pressures are greater when you have a title to defend. You have fought so hard to win it, you are absolutely desperate not to lose hold of it.
Quite apart from his back surgery, just being a Wimbledon champion will have taken a lot out of Andy. There have been so many demands from media and public. Everyone has wanted a slice.
Physically and emotionally, just being a Wimbledon champion is an energy sapper. Murray will have been in demand for even more interviews and appearances than in the past.
I think he has handled himself well. He’s struck a pretty good balance between maintaining the focus on his tennis and training, but also making himself available for commercial and other interests.
Andy has acted like a champion. Full credit to him. He’s gained a lot of support in the last year.
However, there is such a slender dividing line between the very top players that the slightest thing can tip the balance one way or the other.
Whether for Andy that will be switching coaches from Ivan Lendl to Amelie Mauresmo remains to be seen.
It’s my feeling that currently the scales are favouring Djokovic. Everything that Andy has had to deal with over the last 12 months will weigh against him.
Last year I tipped Djokovic for the Wimbledon title, and Murray proved me wrong. I will be very happy for that to happen again!
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