Murray laughs off 'sporting hopes'

Witney Gazette: Andy Murray arrives for the start of a practice session ahead of Wimbledon Andy Murray arrives for the start of a practice session ahead of Wimbledon

Andy Murray has laughed off the idea that this summer's British sporting hopes rest solely on his shoulders after England crashed out of the World Cup early.

The Wimbledon hero said the World Cup gives him "something to do in the evenings", and said it takes the attention off him playing at the famous London tennis tournament.

The 27-year-old Scot will step out on Centre Court tomorrow to begin the defence of his Wimbledon title against Belgium's David Goffin.

Murray will be hoping to land another title in SW19 following his historic victory last summer against Novak Djokovic.

Having ended the wait for a British male singles champion at Wimbledon after 77 years, Murray will try to emulate Fred Perry once more by retaining the title.

With the World Cup taking place in Brazil, tennis is not the only sport in town this summer - but England is now out of the competition and will fly home early, shattering the dreams of thousands.

Asked how he felt about having the hopes of a nation on his shoulders going into the 2014 Championships, the Scot laughed and said: "Wow.

"To be honest, I don't feel too much different than I did a few days ago. I'm here to try and win the tournament. That's it. My focus is solely on the first match, preparing properly for that.

"I trained hard the last ten days or so. Preparation's gone well. So it's now down to me to try and perform on the court. That's what I need to do."

At a press conference, Murray was asked about what he thought of England's performance in Brazil.

He said: "I don't think they played too badly, to be honest. I think the first match against Italy was probably better than Uruguay.

"But, yeah, I like football. I watch a lot of football. I enjoy it when the World Cup is on. It gives me something to do in the evenings.

"I don't have to listen to people talking about me playing at Wimbledon. I can just watch the football. Don't need to worry about any of that stuff."

The Wimbledon champion said the World Cup is likely to be a big talking point among tennis players over the next fortnight.

"Pretty much when you walk into the locker room most mornings, that's what almost all of the players are talking about really.

"Yeah, I mean, a lot of the Spanish guys have been a little bit quiet the last few days. But, yeah, it's nice.

"That's one of the good things about tennis. It's such a global sport. I don't know how many countries there will be involved in the Championships this year, but so many of them.

"Yeah, when you've got a competition like the World Cup on, everyone takes an interest."

Murray said he is feeling "nervous" going into Wimbledon, adding: "But I think, you know, always when you come back to a Grand Slam, there's always nerves and pressure there before you start the event. I feel fairly similar to last year."

Despite the summery weather over the last few days, forecasters say the opening day of the tournament could see interruptions due to rain.

Steven Keates, a forecaster at the Met Office, said that while the first half of tomorrow looks like it will bring a continuation of the fine and sunny weather, there will be about a 20% risk of heavy showers breaking out later in the day.

Temperatures are expected to hit 24C tomorrow, and the next few days are expected to return to the dry weather the capital has been enjoying, but temperatures will be slightly lower.

Mr Keates said the Championships are not looking like a "wash out", and said the main risk of showers this week will be on Monday.

But people do not need to worry about shivering over their strawberries and cream as it will still be warm in the sunshine, the forecaster said.

Murray mania is likely to ripple through Wimbledon once again this year as tennis fans join the famous queue to watch the Scot attempt to defend his title.

Bookmakers William Hill is offering odds of 3/1 for a Murray victory, while Djokovic is favourite on 7/4.

Rafael Nadal, who goes into Wimbledon as the French Open champion, is 9/2 to win, and Roger Federer is on 5/1.

Meanwhile, Britain's top female hope Heather Watson faces a tough draw against Croatian Ajla Tomljanovic, and Laura Robson is ruled out of the tournament due to wrist surgery.

British hope Samantha Murray will take on reigning French Open champion Maria Sharapova in perhaps the most daunting match-up of the round.

Asked about what she thought of her British opponent at a press conference yesterday, Sharapova said: "I don't know much about her. I will try to find some videos, do a little scouting."

William Hill is offering odds of 5/4 on Serena Williams to win, 5/1 on a Sharapova victory and 150/1 on a Watson win.

Murray, who was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours list in December 2012, has an Olympic gold medal after beating Federer at London 2012 and silverware from the US Open after beating Djokovic in the same year.

The British number one parted company with his coach Ivan Lendl in March this year and has brought in former Wimbledon women's champion Amelie Mauresmo to replace him, initially on a short-term basis.

It has made him the highest profile man in the sport to appoint a female coach.

The All England Club will award a total of £25 million in prize money to competitors at the championships.

The gentlemen's and ladies' singles champions will each receive £1.76m, according to the official website.

The queue for tickets started at 8am today.

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