Mon, September 23, 2013

Andy Murray at home at Wimbledon

By ROB LONGLEY, QMI AGency


England's Andy Murray, riding high off his strong showing at Wimbledon, enters the 2012 Summer Games tennis competition in his home country on a high. (STEFAN WERMUTH/Reuters)


LONDON - Andy Murray is no stranger to centre court at the All England Tennis Club, but it’s safe to say every future visit to the famous stadium will have an extra charge to it.

Competing three weeks after losing the Wimbledon men’s singles final to Roger Federer, Great Britain’s medal hope kicked off his Olympic singles competition in style with an easy 6-3, 6-3 win over Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka.

The wave of emotion that swept over Murrary — and indeed the country — after that Wimbledon final loss has been replaced by a renewed appreciation in Murray’s mind of what the game and this venue mean to him personally and the fans that fill the place.

“I always enjoy coming back onto the court,” Murray said following a relatively stress-free start in front of a wildly supportive full house on the big court. “I love the court. I love the atmosphere. Today was no different.”

What has been different is the love fans seem to be showing him since the loss to Federer. Once considered aloof and too much of a moaner on the court, fans seem to have put that aside and are willing to embrace Murray like never before. Getting to a Wimbledon final will do that, considering a Britain hasn’t won the men’s title since 1936.

“After the final, it was different to what I’d experienced before,” Murray said. “It was overwhelming and I’m kind of not used to that.

“I understand that sometimes in the past, you know, it wasn’t always that easy to get behind me because on the court I didn’t look particularly happy. But I think during Wimbledon, I think the buildup to the tournament, I just felt different on the court. I felt like I’d grown up a bit. I felt more mature, like my demeanor was better.”

While it’s clear winning Wimbledon would be a career highlight for Murray, he seems ready to embrace the Olympic challenge and be part of a different wave of support that is sweeping the nation.

“There’s so many great athletes, so many sports going on just now, it’s more the motivation ... that you want to help the medal count if you can,” Murray said. “It’s slightly different pressures.”

Playing on roof-covered Centre Court made Murray one of the fortunate ones on Sunday as massive downpours wiped out much of the play on the outside courts. Canadian hope Milos Raonic will have to wait a day to get his Olympic tournament started as his match with Japan’s Tatsuma Ito was postponed until Monday.

The only Canadian in action on Day 2 was Vasek Pospisil of Vernon, B.C., who fell without a threat 6-4, 6-4 to heavily favoured Spaniard, David Ferrer.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

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