Andy Murray has abundant confidence but the self-awareness that belief alone will not guide him to a second Wimbledon title.
The in-form Scot starts tomorrow against Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin, a Russian-born 27-year-old who reached the third round last year.
Murray has been working with a sports psychiatrist, just like Britain’s Olympic cyclists and snooker star Ronnie O’Sullivan have done to great effect, and surrounded himself with a team he trusts implicitly.
Arguably Murray is at the very peak of his career, with three titles and a win-loss record of 41-6 for the year so far demonstrating why many are tipping him to repeat his 2013 Wimbledon triumph.
There is only Novak Djokovic with a better overall record on tour in 2015, and the Serbian could await Murray in the final on July 12.
“I think in any sport, winning gives you confidence,” Murray said. “This year I’ve won a lot of matches – more than I ever have in my career to this point in a season. It’s been a good start this year. I hope I can keep it up.”
Murray, 10 years on from his Wimbledon debut, will not allow himself to be caught up in the frenzy of expectation that surrounds his arrival at the All England Club each year. Even with his recent playing record, the 28-year-old knows to start thinking about another Wimbledon final would be dangerous. A run to the French Open semi-finals, the first two clay-court titles of his career, and another on grass at Queen’s Club this month, suggest all is well in the Murray camp.
Yet citing Stan Wawrinka’s unforeseen Roland Garros triumph as a case in point, he warns against expecting tournaments to proceed according to expectation.
“It’s very easy to get carried away and look ahead, and think, I’m playing great tennis, everything’s going to be fine,” Murray said.
“But the reality is it doesn’t really matter what’s happened the rest of the year or in the build-up to the event as I think Stan proved at the French Open.
“You have to make sure you’re ready each day for every opponent that you come up against.
“I’m certainly not getting carried away.
“I know how difficult these events are to win. I just concentrate on the first match and try my best to get through that one.”
Murray concedes to having found his recovery from back surgery arduous, and it was obvious as he exited Wimbledon at the quarter-final stage last year, beaten comprehensively by Grigor Dimitrov, that all was not right.
“The first sort of nine months really of last year were very, very difficult and I wasn’t enjoying it so much,” he said.
Now he has to cope with the transition off the match court, that will see Jonas Bjorkman take over from Amelie Mauresmo as Murray’s principal coach. The Frenchwoman, who has proven an inspired choice as coach, is heading off after Wimbledon to have her first child.
Bjorkman loved Wimbledon as a player, winning three doubles titles and reaching the singles semi-finals in 2006 as a 34-year-old – albeit taking a clattering from Roger Federer in the last four.
Murray, who practised with Australian teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis on Sunday, quashed the suggestion he may have appointed the Swede for his grass-court expertise.
But he considered where Bjorkman excelled and believes he will nurture a new attacking dimension.
“When I approached Jonas, I knew him extremely well,” Murray said. “Some of the things I wanted to work on in my game I felt like he could help me with because of his experience and playing that way, trying to come forward more, being aggressive on the returns. He was extremely good at that.
“That was really the reason to start working with him.”
Petra Kvitova has admitted Serena Williams “has a really great chance” to complete the Grand Slam this season in a realistic assessment of her bid to retain the Wimbledon title.
Second seed Kvitova will start the defence of her SW19 crown by facing Holland’s Kiki Bertens tomorrow, accepting top seed Williams’ installation as tournament favourite.
Williams has already bagged the Australian and French Open titles, and is primed to complete the holy grail of swiping all four major crowns in the same season.
“I think that Serena has a really great chance to do it,” said Kvitova of Williams’ Grand Slam bid. “What can I think about it? I mean, it’s great. I think she is a really great champion, she’s always trying to find good form for the important points.”