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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 June, 2005, 20:22 GMT 21:22 UK
Murray rewarded for hard work
By Caroline Cheese
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Andy Murray in action at Wimbledon
Despite Murray's heroics on grass, it is not his favourite surface
Andy Murray has tennis in his blood.

His mother Judy, a former pro and Scotland's national tennis coach until last year, introduced her son to the game at the age of three.

He made good progress under his mother's tutelage, but, showing the sort of single-mindedness that now makes him a contender for the very top of the sport, at the age of 14 he realised he needed to leave his home country.

That realisation came after he saw the progress of fellow teenager Rafael Nadal, and now French Open champion, had made on the clay courts of Mallorca.

So Murray persuaded his mother to send him to Barcelona's world-renowned Sanchez-Casal Academy, which has produced the likes of US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.

There, the boot-camp regime allowed Murray to continue his school work while also honing his baseline game and mental approach, without distraction.

He was also able to play all year round and was never short of quality hitting partners.

ANDY MURRAY
18 years old
Started playing tennis aged three
Grew up in Dunblane, Scotland
Based at Sanchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona
Breakthrough in 1999, winning U-12s Orange Bowl world championships, Florida
Picked in Britain's Davis Cup team 2004
He joined the junior circuit in 2002, winning two titles later that year, before in 2004 he leapt into the limelight by winning the US Open junior trophy.

That achievement came after a trying season in which he spent the first three months sidelined after knee surgery, a lay-off which delayed him making his first steps on the professional tour.

Pato Alvarez, his coach at the time and a man who has looked after more than 40 top-50 players, said he had "never seen a better talent than Andy".

But while there was hope in Britain of a possible successor to Tim Henman, there was also caution.

The British public had seen too many youngsters fail to convert promise into reality, Jamie Delgado, Martin Lee and Alex Bogdanovic to name but a few.

You have to be able to play well on clay to get anywhere in tennis - and there are no clay courts in the UK - so I had to go to live in Spain
Andy Murray

However, after he won his second Futures title, British Davis Cup captain Jeremy Bates was sufficiently impressed to name the teenager in his squad to face Austria in September.

And, following Henman's decision to retire from the competition, 17-year-old Murray became the youngest person to represent Britain in Davis Cup against Israel in March.

Against all the odds, Murray and David Sherwood showed incredible poise to upset the established pairing of Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram.

It was in that match that Murray introduced the British public to his exuberant fist-pumping, which has become even more familiar in recent months.

Handed a wildcard for the Queen's grasscourt event, Murray quickly notched up his first ATP match win before upsetting the seeded Taylor Dent.

His run ended in a heart-breaking defeat to Thomas Johansson in which he was two points from victory but was eventually undone by an ankle injury and cramp.

The 18-year-old'r remarkable third-round run at Wimbledon on his Grand Slam debut was also ended by fatigue in a five-set defeat to David Nalbandian.

His progress at the All England Club has lifted hopes that he may one day win the title, but in fact, the 18-year-old baseliner has a better chance of triumphing at the other three Grand Slam tournaments.

Either way, with the desire and confidence he has demonstrated thus far, he seems destined to fulfil his enormous potential.


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