LONDON (Reuters) - Wimbledon welcomes back a British men’s singles champion for the first time in 78 years on Monday but Andy Murray says he will allow himself only a brief moment to milk the adulation before getting down to business.
Not since Fred Perry’s return as defending champion in 1936, when he went on to win retain the title in his last appearance at the tournament, has the All England Club been able to celebrate the achievements of a home favorite on the opening day of the championships.
After his momentous defeat of Serbia’s Novak Djokovic on the final Sunday last July, Murray has the honor of opening proceedings on Center Court against Belgium David Goffin in what he hopes will be the first step to retaining his title.
“I think tomorrow, I need to enjoy that moment when I walk back on the court,” the world number five, told reporters.
“But as soon as I start playing the match it’s about trying to win. I enjoy winning. That’s it. I mean I don’t really want to go out on the court tomorrow and enjoy playing and then lose.
“It’s time when I get on the court to start concentrating, not think about last year. Concentrate on this year’s tournament, and that’s it.”
The 27-year-old Scot has made Centre Court his home in recent years. Since losing to Roger Federer in the 2012 men’s singles final he has been unbeatable on the hallowed turf, a run that has included an Olympic gold and a Wimbledon title.
Not since 2008 has Murray failed to reach the semi-finals at his home slam, with the vast majority of those victories coming on Centre Court.
Despite having withstood the huge pressure placed on his shoulders last year, however, Murray says there will still be plenty of butterflies in his stomach on Monday.
“I feel kind of similar,” he said. “I feel nervous, which is good. I like that. I don’t feel that different to last year.
“I think if you win a tournament like this, I feel like you get the benefits, you feel the benefits later in the tournament because you know what it takes and you know how to handle the latter stages of a tournament like this.
“But I think, always when you come back to a Grand Slam, there’s always nerves and pressure there before you start the event.”
Since that landmark win against Djokovic, not everything has gone to plan for Murray.
Back surgery ended his 2013 season after the U.S. Open and despite recovering well he has not found the same levels of consistency. He has also parted ways with coach Ivan Lendl, under whose guidance he became a two-times grand slam champion.
He has only played two competitive matches on grass this year, losing to veteran Radek Stepanek in the third round of the Queen’s club warm-up event - his first tournament with new coach Amelie Mauresmo watching on.
There is no sense of anxiety though from the Scot.
“This has been my most consistent tournament throughout my career,” Murray said. “I’d always played pretty good tennis here.”
“Last year, the final was definitely the most pressure I’d felt in all the years I’d played here.
“But I believe if I play my best tennis, I’ll give myself a chance of doing well here, you know, putting myself in a position to win the tournament.
“But you can’t start off slowly in these tournaments. You need to try and be on it from the first match. I’ll be ready for tomorrow.”
Reporting By Sam Holden; editing by Martyn Herman