Andy Murray insists the burden of history will not be sitting heavily on his shoulders as he bids to end the 74-year wait for a British men’s singles champion at Wimbledon.
The fourth seed takes on world number one Rafael Nadal later today bidding for a first appearance in the final at the All England Club.
Murray found himself in the same situation last year but was beaten in four sets by Andy Roddick. The Scot appeared tense on his big day on Centre Court but he does not feel extra pressure in being the latest man to try to emulate Fred Perry.
He said: “It’s obviously been a huge, huge wait for us, and it’s still going on now. The crowd obviously would love to see a British player win Wimbledon.
“It’s something that’s kind of joked about among players and people within tennis about how long it’s been since someone British has won at Wimbledon.
“It’s something that you just learn to deal with. It doesn’t affect the way that I play. It’s not something that you’re thinking about when you’re on the court at all.”
Murray has met Nadal before at Wimbledon, in the quarter-finals two years ago, and it was his comprehensive defeat that day which proved something of a wake-up call.
He went away and worked extremely hard on his fitness, and two months later he beat the Spaniard in the semi-finals of the US Open to reach his first grand slam final.
It has become clear this season how important fitness is to Murray, mentally as well as physically. He put his poor form early in the season down to the knowledge he had not worked hard enough in the wake of a crushing Australian Open final loss to Roger Federer.
The 23-year-old put that right in the weeks leading up to Wimbledon, pounding laps on the running track, and the resulting confidence boost has been crucial to his run of five victories.
He told Real Radio Scotland: “The week before a slam, not many players will be doing that sort of stuff, so it does give you a psychological edge, in your own head anyway, which is actually the most important thing.
“It’s not that important what’s going on in your opponent’s head, so long as you’re feeling good about yourself. You want to practise hard and do your best so when you get to the semi-final and latter stages of grand slams, you can perform well.”
Murray can also draw confidence from his grand slam performances against Nadal, which, the Wimbledon loss aside, have brought one five-set defeat and two victories.
The most recent of those wins came in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in January, when Murray was two sets and 3-0 up when Nadal retired with knee problems.
The Spaniard was full of praise for his opponent that day and he is certain the world number four will not always be a grand slam nearly man.
“He is ready to win a grand slam and one day he will,” said the 24-year-old. “But let’s hope it will not be this one.”