Andy Murray should play without the weight of expectation heavy on his shoulders when he walks out at Wimbledon as defending champion next week, according to former winner Goran Ivanisevic.
The 27-year-old Scot returns to the All England Club having become the first British winner since 1936 after beating Novak Djokovic.
Murray broke down in tears when he was runner-up against Roger Federer two years ago, such was the sense of occasion.
But Ivanisevic, Wimbledon champion in 2001 after being given a wildcard entry, believes those experiences will see a very different player take to Centre Court on Monday afternoon.
“First of all, Andy Murray will have the privilege to open the Championships, and he has deserved it,” said Ivanisevic, who helped launch IMG’s BNP Paribas Tennis Classic at Hurlingham on Tuesday.
“There will be less pressure for him this time because he did it last year and deserved it last year because he was the best player over the two weeks.
“I have no idea if he is going to win again this year but there will be much less pressure on him – he has already won Wimbledon and nobody can say anything to him anymore.
“Of course if he does not win it again this year, he will be disappointed, but he can always go home and say ’I am Wimbledon champion’, and nobody can take that away from him.”
Ivanisevic, who never got the chance to defend his title at SW19 because of injury, added: “However, he is too good a player not to win it again, whether it will be this year or next year, who knows, but his form is picking up now after the injury.
“Already in Paris, he hit the ball much better and I think he is going to be ready.”
Much has been made of Murray’s decision to appoint Amelie Mauresmo – the former world number one and 2006 Wimbledon women’s singles champion – as his coach after parting company with Ivan Lendl.
The pair only started working together after Murray’s run to the semi-final of the French Open, where he lost to Rafael Nadal.
It remains to be seen what the partnership will bring, with Murray having lost against Radek Stepanek in his second match at the Aegon Championships in Queen’s last week.
Ivanisevic, 42, now works as coach for compatriot Marin Cilic, and sees no reason why Mauresmo should not make an impact on Murray’s game.
“It is not like Andy has just chosen a woman, Mauresmo was a Grand Slam winner, she was world number one, an amazing tennis player and is a great person,” said Ivanisevic, who watched Cilic play Kyle Edmund in Thursday’s warm-up event in west London.
“If it is working, then people will be saying ’well done Andy, what a great choice’. If it is not working, then they are going to give him a hard time.
“I hope it goes well, because Amelie is a great girl and an amazing tennis player, so we will see – I think it might work.”
Ivanisevic continued: “(As a coach) you do feel a bit frustrated (from the stands), but you have to stay positive – if he looks at you and you make stupid faces, you do not help anybody.
“I was a tennis player, so I know how it feels. I just have to be there and support him, always be positive and so far it is working well.”
Murray is scheduled to play at IMG’s BNP Paribas Tennis Classic on Thursday, while Friday’s action at Hurlingham is also set to include world number one Nadal, the 2014 French Open champion.
Ivanisevic believes the competition will help fine tune preparations for the All England Club.
“It is important for the guys to have a match, to feel the grass, because it is not the same with just practice, and this event here at Hurlingham, with the crowd, it is not like a tournament, but you feel more serious and feel more pressure,” Ivanisevic said.
“The grass here is great, okay you cant get like Wimbledon, but it is a perfect event.”