Goran Ivanisevic would love to see Andy Murray win Wimbledon and receive a Scottish homecoming to match his own incredible reception in Split 12 years ago.
A vast crowd flocked to see Ivanisevic return with the trophy after his thrilling ’People’s Monday’ triumph against Pat Rafter in 2001, when the Croatian lifted the trophy amid a carnival All England Club atmosphere after needing a wild card just to be in the draw.
While few gave Ivanisevic a prayer that year, Murray begins his eighth Wimbledon campaign with only world number one Novak Djokovic ahead of him in the betting.
Several thousand admirers turned out in Murray’s home town of Dunblane last September as he returned from New York with the US Open trophy, becoming Britain’s first grand slam winner since Fred Perry.
But the 26-year-old could tour Scotland’s biggest towns and cities and be guaranteed to stop traffic everywhere he goes were he to claim the Wimbledon title.
Celebrations could reach a scale close to Ivanisevic’s famous party on the streets of Split, the city where he grew up. On that occasion, flares were lit and those who had long idolised the man with the booming serve and nearly-man charm were shinning up lamp posts to find the best view.
“There were almost 200,000 people. It was unbelievable,” Ivanisevic said.
He expects there would be similar pandemonium for Murray.
“Probably, but then he has to go back to Scotland in order to celebrate. That would be great for him,” Ivanisevic added.
Now aged 41, Ivanisevic plays seniors tennis and commentates.
He saw Murray seize an early lead against Roger Federer in last year’s final, before his challenge subsided.
But with a grand slam now in the bag, and Olympic gold secured from a second Wimbledon campaign last summer, Ivanisevic is convinced Murray will feel less of a strain at his home major.
“Last year he had a lot of chances. In the final he was a better player for a set and a half and then had a bad game, Federer stepped in,” Ivanisevic said.
“After that he won the Olympics, US Open, so it’s much easier now for him to concentrate and to not think, ’If I don’t win Wimbledon it’s the end of the world’.
“I think it’s going to be much easier this year for him.
“There’s always going to be pressure. It doesn’t matter if you are British or not British. When you come to Wimbledon there’s pressure, especially if you’re a favourite and he is one of the favourites.
“But it’s definitely less [pressure] because he has a grand slam already.
“He is one of the favourites. Four guys – Murray, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic - one of the four is going to win. I don’t know which one.”
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