March 6, 2013
Last year he became the first British man since 1936 to win a tennis Grand Slam. He did this just weeks after taking gold at the London Olympic Games. Now Andy Murray is Nominated for the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award. Here he talks to Laureus.com about finally getting his first Grand Slam, becoming Olympic champion and what he would be if not a tennis player.
Question: Congratulations on a wonderful year. That must have been the best year of your sporting life?
Andy Murray: 2012 was an amazing year and my most successful to date, my first Grand Slam in New York and two medals at the Olympics in my home country. I would have taken that at the start of the year, that’s for sure.
Question: Can you choose between the Olympics or the US Open as the best moment in the year, or for you was it something else?
Andy Murray: It’s a tough one. The Olympics was different to anything I had experienced before to be honest. I think I might have to take that after I lost in the Wimbledon final four weeks beforehand against Roger Federer. It was an incredibly tough moment for me that. And then to get the opportunity to play against him - it was literally four weeks to the day - on the same court and to win a gold medal for the country was something I’ll never forget.
Question: Did you approach the Federer final at Wimbledon differently than you approached the Olympic final?
Andy Murray: I think it was just good to have had that experience. When I played Roger in the Wimbledon final, I think that was maybe his ninth Wimbledon final, so I was coming in there with very little experience compared to him. So I think I learned a lot from that match, and went about the final of the Olympics the right way and obviously got the right result.
Question: Did you enjoy the home crowd or was it pressure?
Andy Murray: I really enjoyed it to be honest. It was a very different atmosphere at the Olympics to what you normally get during the Wimbledon championships. The British team had such a great Olympics and I watched loads of medals being won by the British athletes. I think I was motivated by that. The support the whole British team got during the Olympics was incredible.
Question: Did the gold medal at the Olympics give you the boost you needed for the US Open?
Andy Murray: I think it helped in some ways, but I know that before I played Novak Djokovic in the US Open final, it was the most nervous I’d been before a big match in my career. You know I was doubting myself a lot. You’re asking a lot of questions about whether you’re going to be able to do it, playing against the No 1 player in the world, someone that’s been so great on the hard courts the last few years. So I don’t think that the Olympics was the reason why I won the US Open, but winning events like that will obviously improve your confidence and hopefully you’ll gain experience from it.
Question: It was an outstanding year. What changed last year, or what made your game click last year?
Andy Murray: I don’t know exactly what changed, I think I learned a lot in the Australian Open last year. I had a great match with Djokovic in the semi-finals, it was 7-5 in the fifth set, that was five hours nearly, I lost but, I had chances and it came down to the last few points, and I think I gained a lot of belief from that match. I knew that I could last physically with him and also dictated long periods of the match and it was just nice to come off the court in a big match, not really having any regrets, and I think that changed a few things.
Question: What contribution has your coach Ivan Lendl made to your success?
Andy Murray: Not just to me, but to my whole team. We’ve been working together for a long time and to have someone like Ivan come along, who’s lost his first four Grand Slam finals, and I was in the same position as him. And just having someone like him to talk to and discus those feelings. There’s times when you doubt yourself and think that you’re a failure for losing matches like that, but you know he went on to win eight Grand Slams and to have someone with that experience in your corner has definitely helped.
Question: You have been nominated for the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year Award – how pleased would you be to win it?
Andy Murray: It’s a prestigious award and I’m up against plenty of other worthy and talented athletes, so it would be great to win it. Fingers crossed.
Question: Why is a Laureus Award so prestigious – is it because great champions have voted for you, like Boris Becker, Martina Navratilova, Monica Seles?
Andy Murray: For precisely those reasons. All the people involved in the voting for the Award have been great champions themselves and they know what it takes, so it makes it even more special.
Question: Have there been times when you did not think you would win a Grand Slam?
Andy Murray: I think it’s only natural to have doubts and every time I’ve lost in a final it’s been incredibly tough. For me, the best way to deal with it is to get back on the tennis court and in the gym and work even harder. Experience is also vital and knowing how to win when you’re not necessarily playing your best tennis.
Question: You came very close to winning the Australian Open last month, what are your realistic targets for the rest of 2013?
Andy Murray: Preparation and consistency are key for me this year and I’m going into every tournament I play with the aim of winning it. I’m in a good place right now and I’m working hard with my team on every aspect of my game.
Question: You are up against swimmers, an athlete, a gymnast and a footballer this year for the Laureus Award; if you had to trade your sport for one of those, which would it be and why?
Andy Murray: A tough one, I think football would shade it as I spend so much time watching and talking about it. I used to play quite a bit as a kid, so I’d quite fancy a game anyway!
Question: What are your favourite sports to watch or play other than tennis?
Andy Murray: Boxing would have to be my No 1. I try and watch as many fights as possible. I love watching basketball and get to the Heat when I’m over in Miami. I also enjoy watching a lot of the Premier League, mainly just to check how my fantasy football team are doing. I'll basically watch or play any sport!
Question: Other than your own achievements, what was your favourite sporting moment from 2012?
Andy Murray: London 2012 as a whole was very special, I was so proud to be part of that and be able to contribute. If I was picking a moment from that it would be the Saturday where Jess Ennis, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford all won gold. That moment definitely helped me win a medal the next day!