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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 June, 2005, 20:01 GMT 21:01 UK
Living up to the hype
By Piers Newbery
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Andy Murray celebrates beating Radek Stepanek at Wimbledon
Andy Murray's progress to the third round at Wimbledon attracted superlatives and stratospheric expectations.

The 18-year-old Scot - currently ranked 312th in the world - says he wants to be in the top 10 before long.

But does he have what it takes, or will he be another British tennis hopeful who flatters to deceive?

Tim Henman, the man into whose shoes Murray wishes to step as British number one, is a believer.

"The hype is something he will have to accept and deal with and not pay too much attention to," Henman told BBC Radio Five Live.

"There's going to be lots of opinions - and hopefully a lot of positive ones - because he has got a fantastic future. So he needs to just concentrate on his job."

But Greg Rusedski is more circumspect, saying: "We have to give him time. It's his last year on the juniors and the jump up to the seniors is tough.

To be able to show your passion is great. Show your love for the game - enjoy it
Jimmy Connors
"Let's not put too much pressure on him and give him two or three years' grace."

Whether Murray gets that grace following his performances at Wimbledon this year is another matter.

As BBC pundit and former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash said of the hype surrounding Murray: "It's too late now, it's out there."

Even his coach, Mark Petchey, seems to be getting carried away following Murray's victory over 14th seed Radek Stepanek, claiming Murray "has the potential to be bigger than Wayne Rooney".

So it is worth taking a step back to look at where Murray is rather than where he might be in the future.

After all, he is some way off being number one in his age group, let alone the world.

Andy Murray signs autographs at Wimbledon
Murray's success has already attracted a big following at Wimbledon
With Spaniard Rafael Nadal already the French Open champion, Richard Gasquet seeded at this year's Wimbledon and fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils well inside the top 100, Murray has some catching up to do.

But Petchey, who is also the head of men's training at the LTA, remains optimistic.

"He has huge amounts of potential, but obviously it's going to take another couple of years to really develop it," Petchey says.

"With 20 Andy Murrays my job would be a piece of cake. He's pumped up, he's ready to go and he's going to play his tennis in a manner that he wants to play it."

Hand in hand with Murray's impressive play has been his fired-up manner on court from the very first point of every match.

That has not always been the case with British players and one man who - maybe not surprisingly - is a fan is another ex-Wimbledon champion, American Jimmy Connors.

"It was a criticism of Tim Henman that he didn't have enough fire," the American told the BBC's Wimbledon 2005.

The hype is something he will have to accept and deal with and not pay too much attention to
Tim Henman
"You can't change the way a person plays. But Andy Murray played the right kind of tennis and had the right kind of attitude on Thursday.

"To be able to show your passion is great. Show your love for the game - enjoy it."

It is not just Murray's personality that has come as a breath of fresh air to British tennis.

The years he has spent learning the game in Barcelona have seen him develop the kind of modern, all-court style that makes his compatriots seem, well, dated.

Former British number one Annabel Croft told BBC Five Live: "He has got the most wonderful all-round game.

"He's not one-dimensional - he has got beautiful ground strokes.

"He can really open up with a big forehand, he can come up with passing shots on both sides, and then he'll throw in a little drop shot or use the angles.

"He can use a mixture of pace and it is the variety of his game that has got everyone so excited."

He has the talent and appears to have the mental fortitude, but there are still areas to improve if Murrray is to bridge the huge gap that still exists between where he is and where he wants to be.

Encouragingly, Murray was still being told where things went wrong after his stunning straight-sets win over Radek Stepanek in the second round.

Andy Murray and his coach Mark Petchey
Coach Petchey believes Murray can make it, given time
"If you look at his percentage of first serves it was below 50%," Petchey told BBC Sport's Garry Richardson.

"He did win a lot of first serve points when it went in, but it didn't go in as often as I wanted. But he'll disgree with me because he likes to do that!"

The biggest factor influencing where Murray goes over the vital next couple of years could well be the choice of coach.

"We haven't actually spoken about it yet," said Murray. "It's obviously worked the last couple of weeks and I'd like to try to make it work."

Petchey added: "I've made no secret of my belief in Andy as a player and where he's going to go, and it's been an exciting few weeks working with him and I've enjoyed most of the moments with him.

"But I don't want to say too much and neither does Andy at this stage. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."


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