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McEnroe backs Murray to win six slams

ESPN staff
July 8, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Andy Murray's triumph ends a 77-year wait for a British men's singles champion at Wimbledon © AP
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John McEnroe has backed Andy Murray to win at least six grand slams after his "monumental" Wimbledon triumph.

The former world No. 1, who claimed the Wimbledon title three times in his own career, expects the Scot to prosper as he enters his prime with the pressure of ending the 77-year wait for a British men's singles champion at the All England Club lifted, and believes the Scot is in the hunt for the world No. 1 ranking before the season is over.

McEnroe, who went on to win seven grand slam titles in his own career, said Murray had answered his critics and called for the British press gives him the respect he deserves.

"I'd be surprised if he doesn't win at least six majors," McEnroe told BBC Sport. "He's come into his own and there's a lot to look forward to."

Murray becomes the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry last lifted the trophy in 1936, and McEnroe believes ending that particular hoodoo will be a huge weight of Murray's shoulders for the rest of his career.

"This is a big thing," McEnroe continued. "This is a new face who has stepped up in a big way. It's clearly important for all of tennis, but here [in Britain] it's monumental. Every year people ask the same questions - now he never has to hear Fred Perry's name again.

"When he pumped his fists at the end, I thought he was doing it to [former British number one] Tim Henman, but he said it was a little defiance towards the press. He's shut them down and will never have to hear people again asking whether he can win it. Hopefully he'll get the respect he deserves."

McEnroe, who believes the Olympic gold medal was central to Murray's resurgence after the heartbreak of his Wimbledon final defeat at the hands of Roger Federer in 2012, has backed the world No. 2 to overtake beaten finalist Novak Djokovic in the ATP rankings should he carry his form into the American hard court season, and to lay claim to more majors before he hangs up his racket.

"He's got a two, three, four-year period - a couple of years especially - where he's going to be tough to beat, really tough," McEnroe said.

"He sometimes says hard courts are his favourite surface - maybe he'll beg to differ now - but he has a chance to be number one in the world this year if things go well for him.

"He could win the US Open to have two majors this year; no-one else would have that."

Prime Minister David Cameron led the tributes to Murray having watched the final from the Royal Box, while the Queen has also sent the 26-year-old a private message.

"It was an amazing performance from Andy Murray, but also an amazing day for British tennis and for Britain. He never gave up and it was magnificent," Cameron said. "It was a privilege to watch Andy Murray making history."

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond told the BBC: "This young man deserves every bit of his success, he's not just overcome adversity - it is all about constant improvement. I've been watching him for 10 years, he is a different man out there and he's different to last year, he's getting better all the time."

Sir Chris Hoy, Britain's most decorated Olympian, watched his fellow Scot's triumph from the Royal Box and said the pressure Murray was under to deliver a Wimbledon triumph surpassed anything he experienced during his own career.

"Andy is tennis, Andy is Wimbledon for the UK," Hoy said. "There is only one person really that expectation lies on. I was a member of a team so if I didn't succeed it wouldn't be the end of the world for the whole nation.

"I have no idea how he deals with that expectation. Now after 77 years we can celebrate a British winner of Wimbledon, fantastic."

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