THE HEAT IS ON Great Brit hope starting to feel the pressure
ANDY MURRAY admits he feels the pressure cranking up on him after reaching the business end of Wimbledon.
The shock exits of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have boosted Murray’s chance of being crowned king of SW19.
But it has also raised expectation levels among the British public, who are desperate to see a first male singles winner at the All England Club since Fred Perry in 1936.
Instead of a semi showdown with the Spaniard or the Swiss, Murray will now face one of unfancied Poles Jerzy Janowicz or Lukasz Kubot – if he can get past Fernando Verdasco today.
Anything but a showdown on Sunday with Novak Djokovic would be a massive shock – but this has been a tournament full of twists and turns so nothing can be taken for granted.
“The pressure is a seven or eight out of 10 now,” said the 26-year-old, who saw off Mikhail Youzhny in three sets to reach the last eight.
“There’s always pressure coming into this event.
“Playing at the latter stages of Grand Slams is what you play the game for and that’s where there’s the most pressure on you.
“I think I’ve dealt with it well over my career. I’ve played well at Wimbledon and it has been my best Slam.
“That’s down to the surface and the fact I enjoy playing in front of a home crowd and blocking everything else out.
“But there’s real pressure here – it is a stressful few weeks.
“It is one of the biggest tournaments of the year for us and I work extremely hard here.”
Murray finally broke his Grand Slam duck with the US Open title last year – but Wimbledon is the one he really wants.
The Scot added: “Out of all the Slams, I would say there’s the most pressure on me at Wimbledon. But all the Slams are important for different reasons.
“I don’t necessarily value one more than another – a Grand Slam is a Grand Slam – but with this one being in front of the home crowd, it does tend to feel a little bit more important.”
Murray shrugged off any suggestion he is still being troubled by the back problem that saw him miss the French Open, despite appearing to be troubled by niggles during his win over Youzhny.
He said: “It felt way, way better than it did a few weeks ago.
“Now that I’m playing, there’s no chance I would stop. I mean, unless I couldn’t hold the racquet.
“I just need to make sure I keep doing all the right things, like having ice baths, having my massage and taking proper care of my body.” Verdasco is ranked number 54 in the world but climbed as high as seven in 2009 – the same year he knocked Murray out of the Australian Open.
However, that tie remains the only time the Spaniard has ever defeated the Scot in their nine meetings.
“Verdasco is a very, very good tennis player,” added Murray.
“He’s playing very well this week. He’s extremely dangerous when he’s on his game.”