THE HEAT IS ON Great Brit hope start­ing to feel the pres­sure

Midweek Sport - - SPORT -

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.

Stress­ful

“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.”

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