LEADING York tennis coach Marius Barnard believes Andy Murray’s chances of retaining his Wimbledon title are “strong” despite a recent dip in form on grass.
The Scot, who exited in round three in the Aegon Championships at Queen’s last week, will open his defence of the title at the All England Club against Belgium’s David Goffin on Monday.
Barnard, a former Wimbledon competitor with six ATP world tour doubles titles to his name, said: “Murray’s chances are good from a preparation point of view.
“The loss at Queen’s Club last week was not such a bad thing and to be mentally fresh will be a key factor in his success this time around.”
This is a time of significant change in Murray’s career, with former Wimbledon champion Amélie Mauresmo being brought in as his new head coach.
The dividends of the move have yet to be seen but Barnard, head pro at David Lloyd York in Hull Road, believes she has done it on the big stage and can help Murray through this time of high pressure.
Reiterating the fact that Murray has the weight of the nation resting on his shoulders defending his Wimbledon crown, Barnard said: “Having a week’s mental and physical rest in Surrey will be of advantage to let him prepare for this next chapter in his career.”
Mauresmo’s previous appointments as a coach have been brief, with Barnard citing this as a possible problem with regard to her long-term commitment to Murray.
However, Barnard added: “The background to the move is of no concern with Murray being surrounded by female coaches as a youngster and he already seems to be gelling well with Amélie.”
Murray has been seeded three for the tournament, despite his world ranking of five. This was, according to Barnard, a “fair reflection of where he is at with his game”.
The coach added: “Andy has had his injury problems this year and is no longer the spring chicken he once was, but his fitness and physical preparation has gone as well as it could have done in the lead up to the tournament.”
It is the pressure that many believe he will now have to deal with but having broken the deadlock last time around, the onus is now different. It is now one of defending the crown rather than the expectation to win it.
There is more British hope in the draw in one of the eight wildcards for the tournament.
Beverley-based Kyle Edmund will be competing in the main draw against Austria’s Andreas Haider-Maurer.
Barnard believes it will be of great help to the teenager’s future.
He said: “It is great for Kyle’s game to be given a wildcard, and he is a very talented young player. He will need these opportunities to succeed in the future.”
World number five heads British challenge
Andy Murray will start the defence of his Wimbledon title by facing Belgian David Goffin in the tournament’s first round.
The 23-year-old Goffin will compete in his third Wimbledon championships and is currently ranked 104 in the world.
The draw has been relatively kind to Murray, who could face a quarter-final against seventh seed Spaniard David Ferrer, or Queen’s champion and 11th seed Grigor Dimitrov.
Number-three seed Murray could then meet tournament favourite Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals, but cannot face second favourite Rafael Nadal until the final.
Top seed Djokovic will play world number 55 Andrey Golubev, the 26-year-old Kazakhstani.
Seven-time champion Federer will take on Paolo Lorenzi, the 32-year-old Italian ranked 81 in the world.
James Ward will face 17th seed Mikhail Youzhny in a tough first-round pairing, the 31-year-old Russian ranked 16th in the world. Dan Evans will play 23-year-old Russian Andrey Kuznetsov, the world number 114.
Beverley’s Kyle Edmund will come up against Austrian Andreas Haider-Maurer, the world number 96.
Brit Dan Smethurst drew ninth seed John Isner, the big-serving American ranked number 11 in the world, while Dan Cox will face France’s world number 43 Jeremy Chardy.
In the ladies’ draw British hope Samantha Murray will take on reigning French Open champion and fifth seed Maria Sharapova, perhaps the most daunting match-up of the round.
Heather Watson faces a tough draw against Croatian world number 52 Ajla Tomljanovic, while Johanna Konta is up against China’s Shuai Peng.
Wild card British entrant Tara Moore has drawn Russian Vera Zvonareva.