Since Andy’s withdrawal from Wimbledon, what have you been up to these last couple of weeks?
This last week or so has been very different from what we’d imagined and certainly hoped for. The day after Andy made the announcement that he was going to withdraw from Wimbledon, we went straight to practicing on the hard courts. I’ve been with him every day since, combining that with some media duties for the BBC and the Wimbledon Channel. I just love this time of year. I always have. Wimbledon is the number one tournament in the world and it’s something you aspire to from early juniors. Even now for me, after all these years, that feeling never goes away. It stays with you.
You’ve been competing in the Legends event at Wimbledon this year. How’s it been going?
Well we lost our first round which was annoying but the balance of tennis and light-hearted fun means every one leaves the court having enjoyed themselves. I can confirm that Philippoussis has still got it. He can still smack down some 128mph serves when he wants to.
This year’s Championships has been wildly unpredictable, especially on the women’s side of the draw. What do you put that down to?
This Wimbledon has certainly thrown up a lot of surprises and it’s been tricky to have kept up with all the seeds who’ve been beaten, even in the early rounds. Normally I’d put this down to players perhaps not being as comfortable on grass as they are on other surfaces, but with the sheer number of seeds who’ve fallen, I’m not so sure. Players are just taking their opportunities and credit to them.
What about the Brits? How would you rate their performances?
I was impressed with what I saw with Kyle. Getting to the third round was obviously new ground for him personally, and he played so well, and was super aggressive against Djokovic but it was tough to maintain that over best of five sets. Emerging British talent is always heartening to see. Some of the British women, the younger ladies had a good run, and there were decent runs for the likes of juniors Jack Draper and Emma Raducanu. They’ve got a long way to go but we have every reason to be optimistic.
Care to make any predictions for this year’s Wimbledon Champions? It’s been ten years since THAT final between Federer and Nadal – wasn’t it meant to be that they’d play each other again?
It would have been great if that would have happened again but obviously history won’t repeat itself this year with Federer having lost to Anderson in the quarter-finals. I’m not sure I’d like to guess who’d win either the Ladies’ or the Men’s singles, but whatever happens, it will be an incredible final few days to a totally unpredictable Championships. I have to say though that what Federer is doing at his age is remarkable. He’s just so smart and you can see in the way that he’s been playing that he knows what he has to do, both in practice, scheduling and matches to prolong his career. It’s very impressive. I’m always watching what the other players are doing, trying to understand their patterns and habits.
Your fellow Tie Break 10s Ambassador Coco Vandeweghe suffered a nasty ankle injury during her match. What is it about Wimbledon that makes players push themselves through the pain barrier?
The thing about Wimbledon is that from a young age, you know it’s the one that everyone dreams of winning, or even competing at. In exactly the same way that Andy pushed through the pain barrier last year, Coco just did the same. All the athletes do it. They just want to win, even if they have to scrape through to do it, irrespective of how much their body is telling them to stop.
How would you rate Andy Murray’s commentating and presenting debut?
You know what, I haven’t seen or heard it yet. I’ll have to try and catch up later on this week when he’s in the commentary box.
What next for Team Murray?
Much of Andy’s rehab is being taken care of by the doctors and physios, but obviously he’s been building up the work he’s been doing on court which has had to be more specific than before the injury. We’ll be in the UK for a little while yet, working hard on the hard courts, and then it’s onto the US for the next swing of the calendar.