Wimbledon 2008

Posted on: 23 June 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Andy Murray tells 50connect who he thinks will challenge for the men's title, and divulges his preparations.

The oldest major tennis championship returns to the courts of Wimbledon on 23rd June.

The All England Club hosts the 132nd championship, considered the most prestigious tennis championship in the world.

Despite the retirement of Tim Henman, British fans have a new hero in waiting.

British number one Andy Murray is aiming to become the first British singles winner or even finalist since 1977 and Virginia Wade’s memorable win over Betty Stove.

I expect myself to do well; it’s the same in most tournaments.

I want to go out and perform well.

Murray has been seeded 12th for the tournament meaning he’ll avoid the leading names until at least the fourth round.

And the Scot confirmed his fitness for Wimbledon after coming through a tough grass court workout against Janko Tipsarevic on Tuesday afternoon.

Murray won the Boodles Challenge match at Stoke Park 6-3 5-7 12/10 as he made his return to action after pulling out of the Queen’s Artois Championship because of a thumb injury.

The 21-year-old survived match points against world number 40 Tipsarevic in the exhibition match in Buckinghamshire.

And Murray gave the crowd a scare when he slipped at the back of the court and lay motionless for a moment, but he was soon back on his feet and, smiling, saying “I’m OK.”

The Scot will now look to fine tune his game on the practice courts at Wimbledon and he said he was relishing the chance to play at the All England Club next week, having missed out last year because of a wrist injury.

“It’s about trying to get used to the courts down there," he says. "Making sure my body is well rested and in good shape for the start of the tournament.”

“I have struggled a bit with the movement on the grass this year, I don’t know if it’s my shoes or not, and I’ll try and sort it out before I start Wimbledon.”

Men's Winners

2003 Roger Federer

2004 Roger Federer

2005 Roger Federer

2006 Roger Federer

2007 Roger Federer

“I want to make sure I don’t get hurt, but it’s tough when you’re on the court and keep falling over, it makes it difficult to feel comfortable to chase down every ball, which is something that I normally want to do in my matches.”

Murray, ranked number 11 in the world, is relishing the chance to break the British duck at Wimbledon but insists he can deal with the pressure on his young shoulders.

“There’s never any pressure or expectations on you, you can go out and relax without any attention,” he jokes

“I expect myself to do well; it’s the same in most tournaments.  I want to go out and perform well and in the lead up to the match you just have to block it all out and concentrate on your own game, whether there are five people watching or 5,000 people.”

“I get great support when I’m home and the support you get there is unbelievable playing on Centre Court in front of 14,000 people.”

Roger Federer has won the last five Wimbledon championships and Murray expects the world number one to be the main man to beat.

“He’s won something like 56 or 59 consecutive matches on grass and he just keeps winning at Wimbledon. He’s definitely the favourite but then you’ve got guys like Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal up there too so this year promises to be pretty interesting."

“There are loads of decent players on the circuit now; you have to be a class player to win any Grand Slam but I’m really looking forward to playing some good tennis.”

NalbandianMen’s number seven seed David Nalbandian believes Murray has what’s needed to go all the way.

The Argentine, regarded as one of the world’s best players on any surface, is backing the Scot to make a big impact this year.

“He’s been there a few years now and he’s used to it," Nalbandian says.

“It can be a little scary at first but he’s got over the hype and excitement surrounding him.  He’s a strong guy in his mind and I know he wants to achieve some success at Wimbledon."

“It can be hard for the British guys but if he gets a little luck then he can win the tournament.”

In the female competition, new world number one and French Open champion Ana Ivanovic of Serbia is the top seed with compatriot Jelena Jankovic second.

Ladies Winners

2003 Serena Williams

2004 Maria Sharapova

2005 Venus Williams

2006 Amelie Mauresmo

2007 Venus Williams

Maria Sharapova is third, with title holder Venus Williams number seven.

There will be £750,000 on offer for the singles winner in both the male and female competitions with the championship coming to a close on 6th July.

This year Centre Court will feature a fixed roof to prevent any rain delays, something former Wimbledon referee Alan Mills isn’t best pleased with.

“I suppose it will be good for television and of course the players and supporters on Centre Court but you have to think of the others," says Mills. 

“Surely you’re at a bit of a disadvantage if you’ve been skidding round the other courts before playing one of the big guns on a stable pitch.  “I’ve been at Wimbledon for as long as I can remember and the championship is synonymous with rain; you deal with it."

“The rain comes and goes and we always finish the championship one way or another.”

By Mark O'Haire

Are you going to Wimbledon this year? Can Andy Murray win the championship? Is the roof on Centre Court a bad idea? Share your thoughts in the 50connect forums.

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