Murray blighted by mouth ulcers ahead of Wimbledon
Andy Murray has revealed the extent to which the weight of expectation to win Wimbledon affected him and his team both on and off the court.
Excerpts from Murray's new book Andy Murray: Seventy-Seven, detailing the route to glory at this year's Championships and serialised in The Times, detail the physical manifestations of the pressure experienced by the reigning champion.
Murray suffered from ulcers in the days leading up to Wimbledon, an annual occurrence brought on by the stress of shouldering the nation's hopes of ending their wait for a men's singles champion at SW19.
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"The week before Wimbledon I had endured my usual bout of mouth ulcers," Murray wrote. "They come on before the Championships every year, the sign that although I try to block out all that the tournament means to me and to everyone else in the country, my body will respond to the pressure in a way I can't control. The ulcers tend to have disappeared by the time the event comes around, but they are a painful reminder of the time of year."
On the day of the 2013 final against Novak Djokovic, the pressure of the situation began to spread to his support staff, with their final training session blighted by framed shots and errant feeds.
"I was OK until the last 30 minutes before the match and then the nerves hit me," Murray adds. "Everyone else in my team was nervous as well."
The final game of the match, which saw Murray give up three championship points from 40-0 up on serve, is described in minute detail in the book, with the Scot providing a candid assessment of the experience from his point of view.
"Having been three times within a solitary point of the title I had craved for so long, the gulf I had to bridge had now been extended to two points. That is when the shaking began.
"It's hard to describe accurately the pressure and nerves I was experiencing at that moment because I sensed that if I lost this point it might all be over, the opportunity completely gone.
"I was thinking that this could be the only chance I ever have, so it was unbelievably hard not to allow myself to think ahead, to think how it might feel having to play those points that were yet to come."
Having claimed the title on his fourth match point, Murray admits he had no idea how to act in the chaotic scenes that followed in which he even forgot the words he exchanged with Djokovic at the net, before eventually making his way up to the players' boxes to celebrate with his team and family.
"I've no idea if Ivan said anything to me or not," he wrote. "Two things I do recall: my uncle, Neil, was sitting a few rows back and he was so desperate to high-five me that he reached forward and stuck his armpit right in Sir Chris Hoy's face. Then, of course, I hadn't seen my mum and someone shouted, 'Your mum, your mum', so I went back and gave her a hug."
Murray is currently recovering from back surgery and has not yet set a date for his return to action. He has refused to commit to the Australian Open before he has spent some time back on court, expected in the next couple of weeks.
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