Wimbledon: Andy Murray says he has missed the pressure of playing on Centre Court

Andy Murray is relishing playing in front of a big Centre Court crowd again as he prepares to make his first singles appearance at Wimbledon in four years.

The three-time Grand Slam winner has not played a singles match at the All England Club since 2017 and has ongoing concerns over a groin issue.

But he will mark his return on Monday with a clash against 24th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili on Centre, where the former world No 1 will be assured of massive home support.

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Murray, who was included in Britain’s tennis team for the Tokyo Olympics, says he is looking forward to taking his first strides back on the hallowed turf of Centre Court where he is looking forward to feeling the pressure again.

“Six or seven years ago, I didn’t fear that pressure but it was something that I stressed quite a lot about,” the former world No 1 said.

“When I reflect on the last few years, it’s actually something I’ve really missed, playing in front of a big crowd on Centre Court.

“That’s what tennis players and tennis fans want to do. There have been times in my career where I’ve been anxious about that. Whereas right now, I’m looking forward to feeling that pressure.

“I’m not anxious about going out there to perform. I just want to go do it.”

Murray is taking confidence from a practice session with Roger Federer into his opening match after the 34-year-old hit with his old rival on Friday.

He has played only four tour-level matches this year and will have his work cut out against the Georgian Basilashvili, who has won two titles in 2021 and reached the semi-finals of the grass-court event in Halle last week.

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Murray said: “I’ve had some good practices with top players. I would like to have done more. But I’m also trying to manage the physical side as well, which is very important.

“I want to go into Wimbledon feeling as fresh and as comfortable as possible when I get out there.

“Getting to play with Roger was really cool for me. They’re the sort of things that probably six, seven years ago I wouldn’t have given any thought to it. I would have seen that as just being a practice session pre-major with a top player, and focusing on myself.

“I’m probably appreciating those things more. When I take a step back from that, as a tennis fan, getting to play with Roger Federer two days before Wimbledon, it’s really great. I haven’t had the opportunity to do that sort of stuff much over the last few years. I enjoyed that.”

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He continued: “The way that I’ve been performing in my practices with top players, I’m not going out there and getting whacked. I’m competing well with all of the players that I practised with.

“That’s the really positive thing for me. That’s one of the reasons why I’m sure, if my body holds up, that I can do well, can compete with these guys on the biggest stages.”

A little catch-up mid practice #Wimbledon | @rogerfederer | @andy_murray pic.twitter.com/1UjPLsoMQd

Federer, who is chasing a record-extending ninth Wimbledon and 21st Grand Slam title, revealed it was nice sharing the court with Murray.

“I thought he looked good. To be honest, you can see how comfortable he is on the grass. Clearly it’s just practice, but I hope he can go deep here,” the 39-year-old said.

“I think we always back our chances on this surface. But it was great spending time on the court again with Andy. It’s nice to see him out there.”

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