x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Murray will find slam a tough hill to climb

It was known as Henman Hill, flirted with the title of Rusedski Ridge and now goes by the moniker of Murray Mound.

It was known as Henman Hill, flirted with the title of Rusedski Ridge and now goes by the moniker of Murray Mound. Thousands will embark on the grassy knoll that circulates Wimbledon's Centre Court and its gigantic television next week to pay homage to Andy Murray, that most streamlined of Scotsmen, and his inflamed campaign to win the grand slam on grass. History suggests that Murray faces an uphill task steeper than the mound, a mountainous one even, to make Wimbledon his first major trophy, despite continuing to bask in some regal praise for being the first Briton to win at Queen's Club since Bunny Austin in 1938. He defeated James Blake 7-5, 6-4 in the final. Opportunity knocks for Murray at the age of 22.

Fred Perry was the last British player to carry off Wimbledon in 1936. Murray dons Fred Perry sportswear, but projecting the look of a winner in a fortnight as intense as Wimbledon is more difficult to oversee. Jeremy Bates, John Lloyd and, most notably, Tim Henman, have all bore the brunt of the Union Jack with strain and pride over the past four decades, but found reaching the final of Wimbledon an unfeasible remit. Murray's Queen's success on Sunday is hardly a reliable source if one is looking to predict future wealth. Only six men in 30 years have won at Queen's, the main prelude to Wimbledon, then continued their winning ways at All England club.

Peter Sampras, Lleyton Hewitt and Rafael Nadal are the only three figures to win Queen's then Wimbledon over the past decade. Roger Federer has preferred to fraternise with the grass event in Halle in Germany rather than Queen's, but Ivan Lendl, Mark Philippoussis and Wayne Ferreira all won Queen's in the 1990s then came up short at Wimbledon. Andy Roddick has a right to bang his head in despair. He has won Queen's four times without finalising the deal at Wimbledon.

Murray continues to picture a dreamy scenario. "I don't think it's impossible and I go into every tournament with the mentality that I can win," he said yesterday. If Murray wins Wimbledon, it may prompt an outbreak of appreciation comparable to the time the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, but British players have tended to be dead men walking before the final Sunday comes into view. @Email:dkane@thenational.ae