LONDON (Reuters) - Andy Murray has coped magnificently with shouldering his country’s hopes at Wimbledon for the past decade but has sought some extra help this year in the shape of a psychiatrist.
Top-level athletes, especially in individual sports, quite often work with sport psychologists, but 28-year-old Murray wants to understand the deeper mechanisms of his mind as he bids to win the prestigious title for a second time.
Should he reach the final and face world number one Novak Djokovic, who he beat in the 2013 title match but has lost to in their next eight meetings, any mental edge could prove crucial.
“I don’t use a sports psychologist. It’s a bit different to that. I‘m more interested in learning the signs behind it and why the brain works in certain ways and why you may react or say things at certain times,” he was quoted in British media on the eve of the tournament he cherishes so much.
”I just tried to learn and understand myself better. When you do that you know you can cut yourself some slack sometimes. As you go along, you learn.
”I used a lot of sports psychologists when I was younger. Sometimes it helped and sometimes it didn’t feel like it did.
“But now I‘m interested in learning about how the brain works, rather than being told how to count to 10, or whatever it is, to calm yourself down -- which, for me, didn’t help.”
Murray’s early career was marked with rapid emotional swings in matches but he seems more stable these days and the world number three arrives at Wimbledon in sparkling form.
Murray says knowing how he reacts to certain situations, such as a double-fault or a missed break point opportunity at the crucial stage of a match, was a big help.
”There is someone that I use. It’s not a mind guru, it’s a psychiatrist. There is a difference -- so he tells me -- between a psychiatrist and a psychologist.
“I don’t know exactly what it is, but the work I‘m doing is different to the work I was doing in the past. I find it extremely interesting. When you see how you react in certain situations, it‘s, like, yeah, that’s correct.”
Third seed Murray begins on Tuesday against Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Toby Davis