Andy Murray embraced the pressure like no one did before him… I could never deal with being British No 1
- Not only did Andy Murray never run away from the pressure, he embraced it
- Murray was a bionic superman who could stay out on court all day long
- He was not someone with massive shots to blow people off the tennis court
- Early in his career he would get emotionally negative and almost defeat himself
I could never deal with the pressure of being British No 1. I have no idea how Andy Murray managed it, walking out in Wimbledon finals with a weight of expectation on his shoulders magnified many more times than for any other male tennis player this country has produced since Fred Perry. Not only did Andy never run away from the pressure, he embraced it.
Whenever I coach or speak to young tennis players, I always tell them the most important thing is to squeeze every last ounce out of your ability. If there was anyone who maximised what he had it was Andy.
His work ethic was beyond belief. He was a bionic superman who could stay out on court all day long. A remarkable human being.
I could never deal with the pressure of being British No 1. I have no idea how Andy Murray did it
If there was anyone who maximised what he had it was Andy – his work ethic was beyond belief
The saddest irony of his announcement is that it was these physical tools that made him what he was. Andy is a great player but one who needed that physicality. He was not someone with massive shots to blow people off the court. He would grind them down. Now it is his body which has now cut his career short.
It has been an amazing career. I look back at the things he went through to become the best, those mental lapses in the early part of his career that held him back in the Grand Slams — when he would get emotionally negative and almost defeat himself. He learned to control that.
He would still have been a great player even if he had not won a slam. In the era that he has played in, to get to a final was big enough. He has been up against three giants in Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, who can all stake a claim to be the greatest male player of all time. To win three slams, Andy is certainly the greatest British male player.
He was a bionic superman who could stay out on court all day long – a remarkable human being
The saddest irony of his statement is that it was the physical tools that made him what he was
He is not far off being the best British sportsman of all time. Consider the competition he has had. Tennis is not a sport, like cricket, confined just to a few countries. It is played all over the world, and he became the No 1 player on the planet. That is a supreme achievement.
The worst part for any athlete is when you have to quit and it is not on your terms. Many of us wake up one day and know our time has come. Andy could still have had years at the top. That is what will hurt the most.
It will hurt British tennis too. Andy will be a gigantic loss. We have some good male players coming through, particularly Kyle Edmund and Cameron Norrie. These are players with a shot of winning a slam – but that’s it, a shot.
All of a sudden expectations are going to have to be pulled back until someone can get close to Andy, and players like him do not come around very often. It took us 76 years to find another champion after Fred.
The worst part for any athlete is when you have to quit and it is not on your terms
The big question is what’s next for Andy? The difficult thing is to reproduce the high of playing the sport you love at the highest level, and for Andy, being so damn good at it.
Some players struggle with that but I don’t think Andy will. He has got a great family, and he is a very smart, articulate man. I am sure he will find new challenges, whether it’s in charitable causes, commentary or giving back to tennis.
Whatever it is, Andy will strive to be the best, and he will be. That’s the kind of person he has been all his life.