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Authors: Andy Murray

Hitting Back

HITTING BACK

A
NDY
M
URRAY

HITTING BACK

The Autobiography

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ISBN 9781409036050

Version 1.0

www.randomhouse.co.uk

Published by Century 2008

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Copyright © Andy Murray 2008

Andy Murray has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and
Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work

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First published in Great Britain in 2008 by
Century
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London SW1V 2SA
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A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN: 9781409036050

Version 1.0

To all my fans – for all the support you have given me
through the good times and the tough times.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to – my family for keeping me grounded.

To my mum and dad for always encouraging me to pursue
my tennis career.

To all my coaches for helping me to get to the level I'm at –
Leon Smith, Pato Alvarez, Mark Petchey, Brad Gilbert – and to
everyone who is with me now – Miles Maclagan, Matt Little,
Jez Green, Andy Ireland and Alex Corretja.

To Tennis Scotland, Sportscotland, Scottish Institute of
Sport, the LTA, RBS, Robinsons and Edmund Cohen for
providing the funding and support I needed to train in Spain.

To all my sponsors for their continued support – RBS, Fred
Perry, Head, Highland Spring and David Lloyd Leisure.

To my agent Patricio Apey and Ace Group for taking care of
business.

To Rob Stewart, my website editor, and everyone who gets
involved with
www.andymurray.com

To my former physio Jean-Pierre Bruyere for taking such
good care of me and teaching me how to look after my body.

To Sue Mott for all her help in the writing of this book.

And to Kim, Carlos and Dani for always being there when I
need them.

HITTING BACK

Chapter One:
The Two Imposters

Kipling's wrong, by the way. You can't treat them exactly the
same, Triumph and Disaster. I don't. Triumph is clearly better.
I have never liked losing. When I was a little boy I'd overturn
the Monopoly board in a rage if I was losing – so my gran tells
me anyway – but you could say I have matured with age.
I understand I'm not going to win every tennis match I play. I
come off the court and I'm disappointed, but I don't beat
myself up over it. I'm competitive, I want to win, but I'm not
an idiot.

I wanted to win that day I stood under the Rudyard Kipling
quote at the entrance to the Centre Court at Wimbledon for the
very first time in my life. There's hardly a more famous spot in
the whole tennis world. You don't even have to look up to
know that it's there . . .

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same.

It was my first Centre Court match, at my first Wimbledon, in
my first grand slam against a man who had played in a
Wimbledon final. Oh, and ten million people were watching on
television and I had this massive bag of drinks over my
shoulder that was way too heavy to carry.

I had been sitting in the champions' locker room when they
came to get me for the match. It wasn't a mistake. I was
allowed to be in there because I'd been part of the Davis Cup
squad for Britain, but it was seriously weird being there, with
attendants offering you towels and John McEnroe doing
stretching exercises on the floor. The walk from the locker
room to the court just made things even more unbelievable.

The corridor was lined with framed photographs of all the
former champions. Some I would play against one day – and
one day surprisingly soon – like Roger Federer and Lleyton
Hewitt. One I had already played against, no less a hero than
John McEnroe who had deliberately ignored me the first time
we met. Some had been runners up, like my childhood hero
Andre Agassi – I used to own a pair of pink Lycra and denim
shorts thanks to him, which may not be something to boast
about. Some I had loved watching on TV like Björn Borg and
Jimmy Connors. Others I only knew about from the history
books, like Fred Perry, who as everyone knows – because we
are always being reminded – was the last British man to win
Wimbledon in 1936. That's a very long time ago. Now I was
walking down the corridor, listening to 'Let's Get It Started' by
Black Eyed Peas on my iPod, reckoning it was probably too
soon for me to change all that.

I was eighteen years old – just – and this was about to
become the most amazing time of my life. We walked past
the back entrance to the royal box. Sir Sean Connery was in
there, but I didn't know it at the time. We were led down a set
of stairs beside the trophy cabinet, through the main hallway
and then, just to maximise the intimidation, they made me
stand underneath that famous Kipling sign carved over the
doorway.

All the names of all the Wimbledon champions were lettered
in gold on the wall next to me. A television camera was
pointing at my face and my opponent was standing there with
me, obviously much more relaxed than I was, having played on
the tour for eight years, an established top-10 guy. As
competitors go, David Nalbandian was a heavyweight. No one
said anything. It took an effort to believe this was actually
happening.

I love boxing and sometimes tennis is pretty similar. No one
gets punched in the face, but waiting to go on court was like
waiting to walk into the ring. The two of us would go out
together, but only one of us would survive.

This was my first Wimbledon – my first Wimbledon as a senior
professional. I'd played the junior tournament three times
before and lost twice in the first round. It wasn't exactly my
most successful stomping ground; I'd never played well there.
I'd never really played well on grass before. It was only my
third senior tournament and here I was, about to play on some
of the most famous courts in the world, amongst all the best
players, with 14,000 people watching and a huge television
audience at home. Two months before that I was playing – and
losing – in front of four or five people at a Challenger event in
Germany.

That's why that Wimbledon experience was so special in
2005. It was
so
new. I was a schoolboy's age, ranked 317th in
the world, I had no experience playing at that level, so going into
the tournament my expectations were pretty low. Why wouldn't
they be? I'd never done anything at Wimbledon before. This
could so easily have been one of Kipling's Disasters.

And yet, by the end of the tournament I'd become a friend of
Sir Sean Connery, was being stalked by television crews, had
received proposals of marriage and had had my first taste of
'Murray-mania'. It was surreal.

I'd only started practising on the Friday before Wimbledon
because I'd twisted my ankle at Queen's. That had caused quite
a stir. Because I cramped up two points from winning my third-round
match against Thomas Johansson, the Swede who won
the Australian Open in 2002, people were saying I was unfit. It
had been a good match in many ways for me, but going wide
for a ball at 30–15 5–4 in the deciding set (my coaches will tell
you I usually remember every single point I play) I had turned
my ankle badly. I seemed to be on the ground for about ten
minutes before they decided to do something about it. The
trainer taped up the injury, but when I went back out to play I
couldn't because the ankle was shot and my legs started
cramping badly. I couldn't finish the match and didn't step on
any court for another week. I didn't know if I was going to be
able to play Wimbledon at all.

When I walked into Wimbledon for my first match there as a
professional, I already knew that I was playing first match on
Court Two, known as 'the Graveyard of the Champions'. That
was all right. I wasn't a champion. I had won precisely two
matches in my life on the ATP tour.

It was weird. Many things would be weird this week. First of
all I had to get used to being in that main locker room with the
stars who had no clue who I was. Normally someone with my
ranking, the second lowest in the entire draw, would be in the
upstairs locker room with the lower-ranked players – and
Andy Roddick, because he refused to go in the main one until
he won Wimbledon. I think that's OK for him, if that's how he
feels, but being downstairs was a perk I was prepared to take.

It was still very strange. Roger Federer was in there. All the
top players were in there – plus John McEnroe, Pat Cash and
all the commentators who were going to be playing in the
Over-35s tournament in the second week. I felt out of place
because no one knew who I was, and I felt them staring at me
and thinking: 'What are you doing in here?' Maybe they
thought I was a stray ball boy.

These guys were all much older and more famous than I was.
I felt awkward. Obviously I knew nothing compared with
them. The only thing I could do was keep my head down and
not speak unless spoken to. Some people might find that hard
to believe when they see me on court, but it's true. I didn't
think it was right to go up to these guys and start acting like
we were friends. I was sure they wouldn't like it.

McEnroe, of course, is an icon and everybody loves him at
Wimbledon. I wouldn't have said a word to him if we hadn't
met before but I knew him – or sort of knew him – because
we'd met a few months earlier at an exhibition tournament at
the Wembley Arena. It is not a memory I treasure. In fact, it
was pretty embarrassing, but at least it broke the ice – almost
– with one of the greatest players of all time.

It was a $250,000, eight-player, one-set, straight knock-out,
winner-takes-all event at the back end of 2004 and I had no
business being there at all. At the time I was just a 17-year-old
junior, but Tim Henman had pulled out with an injury and I
had just won the US Open Juniors, so I had had a surprise call
asking if I would be able to go down and play.

That was another one of those surreal experiences. I was
invited to the press conference the day before play started and
found myself sitting between Boris Becker, Goran Ivanisevic
and John McEnroe, three legends of the game. I was stuck right
in the middle, feeling so nervous and so intimidated I could
hardly speak.

I was such a nobody, even more than I would be at
Wimbledon. It didn't help that I was due to play McEnroe in
the opening round and he was taking the match very seriously.
I worked this out after the press conference when the
photographers asked the two of us to square up and stare into
one another's eyes. It was just desperately embarrassing and a
little scary.

McEnroe wasn't speaking to me. He wasn't putting me at
my ease – which was fine. I didn't mind – but I couldn't believe
they were making me do this: a 17-year-old kid doing a boxing
stare-out with someone like John McEnroe. He was loving it.
You could tell he was enjoying it and I was just hating it.

Result: he won 6–1. It was the first time I'd played in front
of a decent-size crowd and I was so nervous I couldn't play at
all well. I hadn't been practising, I'd been taking a break after
the US Open and I hadn't even turned professional yet. It was
a last-minute call-up and I was playing horribly. It was awful.
Being on court with McEnroe was awesome, but feeling so
inadequate was just terrible. At the end of it I said: 'Mr
McEnroe. It has been an honour to play against you.' Seeing
him again six months later at Wimbledon, I didn't know
whether to be horrified or pleased.

I'd come straight from junior tournaments and low-grade
senior events when no one cared whether you won or lost,
except your mother, and the entire audience was one man and
his dog. I'd stayed in rubbish hotels, family digs, boarding
school dormitories and sometimes you ran out of money for
food. Now suddenly I was part of the biggest tournament
in the world, staying in the basement flat of a house in
Wimbledon village with my mum and my brother and being
offered a courtesy car just to drive down the hill to the courts.
It was hard to believe. Some days I just walked. It didn't
matter. Despite my brief showing at Queen's, nobody recognised
me. No one took any notice of me. But after my second
match, it changed. That was when it all went a little bit mad.

First, however, I had to survive that opening match, my
debut as a senior professional at Wimbledon. I was a bit
nervous when I woke up after a decent sleep but I was also
really, really focused. My opponent was George Bastl of
Switzerland, a good player ranked higher than me – but then
everyone was ranked higher than me. The bad news was that
he had beaten Pete Sampras, one of the greatest grass-court
players of all time, at Wimbledon three years before. The good
news was that I still thought I had a chance of winning.

As I said, we were on Court Two – the scene of his famous
triumph against Sampras, who had won Wimbledon seven
times – but that didn't worry me. I walked out there with 'Let's
Get Started' on my iPod and it turned out to be quite a theme
tune for the week that would change my life.

There weren't many people watching as we started, but the
crowd grew as the match went on. I played really well and my
serve didn't get broken the entire match. I won 6–4 6–2 6–2
and then I delayed Venus Williams coming on court for the
second match because I was trying to sign so many autographs.

That wasn't just me being naïve. It was a promise I had made
to myself years before on my first ever trip to Wimbledon as a
kid with friends on a minibus from Dunblane Sports Club. I
was seven years old and my hero at the time was Andre Agassi.
I really wanted his autograph but I couldn't get near him. I had
to come away without it and was really disappointed. I
promised myself there and then that if I was ever a famous
player I wouldn't ignore the kids who wanted my autograph.
I'd sign as many as I could. Sorry Venus, I just didn't realise
how long it would take.

It was ages before I got back to the locker room. I was still
a little amazed to be in there. It was old-fashioned but
unbelievably clean. Next to every sink was deodorant and
shaving foam – not that I used it. Two locker-room attendants
were available to get you towels. There was drinking water,
Coke and Sprite. They'd got everything in there. I'd never
experienced anything like it in my life.

It wasn't long ago that I'd been in some horrible places in
junior tournaments round the world, where the kids don't care
where they pee and everything stinks. You'd see insects like
large black beetles scurrying about and some of the showers
were just pipes sticking out of a wall, pouring dirty, bad-smelling
water. There are no towels and usually no loo roll.
You just take one from your hotel. You get used to it. It's fine.
But, for this and many other reasons, Wimbledon was a
massive culture shock.

That night, after my first win, we went out for a Pizza
Express takeaway. We've always joked that my mum's cooking
is not the best. Actually it's not a joke. So most nights we ate
out or ordered in. I didn't celebrate though. I was obviously
really happy that I'd won, but the tournament was so
important to me, I just wanted to make sure I was ready for my
next match. This one would be a really tough test, against a
player with a bit of a reputation for gamesmanship, Radek
Stepanek from the Czech Republic. However, there was more
to it than that.

Stepanek's coach at the time was Tony Pickard, the former
British Davis Cup captain who had famously coached the
Swede Stefan Edberg when he won Wimbledon in 1988 and
1990.

Some time before Wimbledon he'd met my mum at a tournament
and decided to have a conversation with her about what
I was doing at the Sanchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona and
why I was playing Futures events in Spain.

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