Murray hurries out of Wimbledon

Andy Murray could not get out of Wimbledon fast enough.

Andy Murray could not get out of Wimbledon fast enough.

Quick shower, straight in and out of his obligatory post-match press conference, and away. Taking care, of course, to leave by the players’ exit, the one on the opposite side of the ground from the gate that houses the statue of Fred Perry, who remains the last Briton to win the men’s singles title for another year at least.

Another Wimbledon gone.

Yet, along with his spare rackets and his disappointment at failing to reach the final, Murray took away from Wimbledon 2009 the tools to become a champion.

Andy Roddick, the man whose concussive serve crushed his dream, predicted he had the talent to be a serial Grand Slam champion of the future.

John McEnroe and Tim Henman agreed.

And if Boris Becker warned that in tennis you have to take your chances when they come – and 2009 was a missed opportunity – then neither did he question Murray’s talent.

The fact is that Murray has just turned 22, the age when Roger Federer won his first grand slam at Wimbledon. Murray has time on his side. The US Open in September offers a fast court and another chance.

But only if Murray absorbs the lessons from SW19 in 2009.

In his favour is the fact that he has matured from the chippy Scot who appeared full of teenage angst and frustration.

He is more comfortable in his own skin with supporters. He is more savvy with the press corps, fielding some of the more bizarre questions which are a feature of Wimbledon with patience and restraint.

He saw the one coming from the reporter who asked who he would be supporting in the forthcoming Ashes series. And moved on swiftly. He was upset by the way his negative comments about the Centre Court roof were portrayed when he believed he had given an honest appraisal.

It sometimes pays to be diplomatic. Another lesson learned.

But it is the lessons from his action on court, especially his five-sets epic against Stanislas Wawrinka and semi-final against Roddick, which hold the key to whether he becomes a champion.

Against Wawrinka he allowed a good, but not great, player to dominate too many rallies. He was too passive, too content to wait and hope his opponent would make the mistakes. In the end it worked but such tactics do not often get the job done against the greats of the game.

It is why Federer, while recognising Murray’s ability, has voiced reservations. Federer reserves his total respect for players who win off their own racket rather than the errors of others.

Against Roddick, Murray’s second serve was exposed for what it is. One with a useful kick but too slow and too inviting, often less than 80mph, to get the job done deep into a grand slam. It is like a kink in a golfer’s swing. Exposed when under the severest pressure.

His backhand, usually one of tennis’s most lethal shots, also showed signs of fallibility against Roddick.

To Murray’s credit his immediate response was to confirm he would hit the practice court with his coach Miles Maclagan and coterie of fitness trainers and work on improving a game which has been transformed this past 12 months.

“Coming to the net is something I have worked on a lot but haven’t used that much in matches,” said Murray, giving one example of how he could improve.

“It’s tough to go on the court and work on things in matches but that’s something I practise a lot and I’ll try to get better at it.”

That work ethic, that insatiable desire, that huge natural talent. All factors which mean there is every reason to believe Murray will lift a grand slam trophy soon.

Not that it is certain. The tennis circuit is an unforgiving place with strength in depth. Rafael Nadal, if he returns from his knee problems, and Federer, if he retains his hunger following the impending birth of his first child, will remain obstacles for the next few years at least.

Players such as Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro, Fernando Gonzalez, Marin Cilic and the resurgent Roddick are all capable and who knows which new stars might emerge.

As Murray said: “Unfortunately the last few slams that I’ve played I’ve come up against guys who have played great, great tennis.”

That is the nature of the sport.

Yet Britain should be proud of Murray. And grateful too.

For the best part of a fortnight he flew a lone home flag amid the depressing debris of British tennis and gave Wimbledon 2009 its colour and its greatest drama.

His match with Wawrinka will live long in the memory. So will his duel with Roddick.

Next year, 74 years on from dear old Fred, there will be the same hype and the same expectation. If Murray has learned the lessons of the past fortnight he might just deliver.

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