Belfast Telegraph

Wimbledon: Andy Murray can win doing it Rory’s way

By Steven Beacom

Over the last few days we've watched and marvelled as a young sporting prodigy has fulfilled his major potential.

A swagger like our ‘wee Mac’ could see andy crownedEnjoy the ride: Andy Murray needs to go out and play with a smile on his face, like Rory McIlroy does in his sport, if the Scot is to claim a Wimbledon titleBY STEVEN BEACOM

AT WIMBLEDON

In Maryland, near Washington DC, our own Rory McIlroy has delivered some of the greatest golf ever played.

Andy Murray has taken a keen interest in the heroics of Holywood's finest in the US Open as he has driven like a dream, peppered flags and holed countless putts.

Last night the Scot tuned in to see the 22-year-old Ulsterman claim his greatest triumph to date.

Since McIlroy was a teenager with immense promise, we've waited for his crowning glory.

It's one thing talking about it — as just about everyone in golf has done for the last three years — it's something else entirely, handling the pressure and actually doing it.

Now the tennis world awaits to see if Murray can fulfil his vast potential and follow suit at Wimbledon.

Like McIlroy earlier this year at the US Masters, the Scot suffered a major disappointment when he lost the Australian Open final to Novak Djokovic.

Unlike the resilient McIlroy, though, it took Murray time to get over his despair. Months.

It wasn't until a solid bunch of displays recently in Paris, taking him somewhat surprisingly to the semi-finals of the French Open, that the 24-year-old from Dunblane came out of his slump.

And then last week he was in sensational form, winning pre-Wimbledon event the AEGON Championships.

What impressed even more than his audacious shot making was his demeanour and the way he went about his job.

Shock, horror but Murray, often labelled Mr Grumpy, looked as if he was enjoying it.

And therein lies the secret to his chances of success over the next fortnight.

For two weeks the spotlight will be on Murray, like no-one else in Britain — bar perhaps Pippa Middleton — and it is up to him to live with it and embrace it rather than clam up and become frustrated with the endless media requests, autographs and front page pictures.

In short he should take a leaf out of McIlroy's book, who embraces just about everything to do with his sport, from the interviews to the adulation, and he does it all with a smile on his face.

I'm not saying that Murray needs to be cracking jokes in every press conference, but he needs to learn to enjoy the moment and the matches, have the swagger, so evident in Rory lately, and flow with self-belief.

Then he can go about the task of winning his first Wimbledon title and first Grand Slam event.

He has the talent in his hands. Get it right in the mind and yes, he could be holding up the famous trophy on the second Sunday, even with arguably the two greatest players in history, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, and the brilliant Djokovic, standing in his way.

Nadal, the title holder, started his defence today with a first round match against American Michael Russell, with Murray finishing proceedings on Centre Court against Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver.

If all goes according to plan, Murray and Nadal, incidentally a close friend of McIlroy's, should meet in the semi-finals with the winner taking on either Federer or Djokovic.

The last four is a mouthwatering prospect, but there will be plenty of blistering tennis, joy and heartache before then. And rain of course.

In my view, Murray can win this thing doing it the McIlroy way.

In the women's event, even though they haven't played a Slam for what seems like ages, it's hard to look past either Venus or Serena Williams, if they avoid the inevitable early scares.

For the good of the game, they need to be challenged at SW19 and Maria Sharapova, looking great in practice here yesterday, is the best bet to do that.

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