Andy Murray goes into his second Wimbledon final confident he will benefit from last year’s experience as he bids to reach the “pinnacle” of tennis. That is how the world number two described the Wimbledon singles title, which no British man has won since Fred Perry in 1936.
Today Murray will face world number one Novak Djokovic for the third time in the last four grand slam finals, with the Scot winning his first slam title at the US Open before his rival gained revenge in Australia.
Victory in New York and Murray’s Olympic triumph on the All England Club lawns last summer meant the expectation was higher than ever when he arrived at Wimbledon two weeks ago.
But it is the experience of 12 months ago, when he lost to Roger Federer before sobbing his way through a post-match speech, that he feels will stand him in good stead. Murray said: “I think I learned a lot from last year’s Wimbledon. The whole grass-court season last year I learned a lot from.
“The one thing that stands out is I knew how I needed to play the big matches, or try to play the big matches, after Wimbledon, because I didn’t come away from that final doubting myself or the decisions I made on the court, because I went for it. I lost, but I didn’t have any regrets.
I think I’ll be probably in a better place mentally. I would hope so just because I’ve been there before. I won a grand slam. I would hope I would be a little bit calmer.
But you don’t know. You don’t decide that. I might wake up on Sunday and be unbelievably nervous, more nervous than I ever have been before. But I wouldn't expect to be.”
Wimbledon, of course, is the grand slam the British public most want to see Murray win, and it has become a special place for the 26-year-old, who spends time outside of the championships just sitting on Centre Court.
But Murray is not sure anything could better the elation of Olympic gold or the relief of winning a first grand slam final at the fifth attempt. He said: “Winning Olympic gold, I don’t know if I’ll ever have feelings like I had that day.
Winning Olympic gold here, a home Olympics, I’ll never get the opportunity to do that again. It was probably one of the proudest moments of my career. I don’t know if I’ll ever top that. Winning Wimbledon would be a huge achievement for any tennis player.
“I think winning my first slam after failing a lot of times at the final hurdle, I don’t think anything will top the release that I had after that match. But winning Wimbledon is pretty much the pinnacle of the sport.”
There will be no secrets between Murray and Djokovic, who were born only a week apart and have already faced each other 18 times. Djokovic leads 11-7 and has won the last three meetings, while Murray won their only previous match on grass in the semi-finals of the Olympics.
Their matches have mostly been close and increasingly long, and Murray feels neither has the psychological edge.
Head-to-head: Djokovic leads Murray 11-7
* 2013 Aus Open final: Djokovic 6-7 (2/7), 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-2
* 2012 World Tour Finals: Djokovic 4-6, 6-3, 7-5
* 2012 Shanghai final: Djokovic 5-7, 7-6 (13/11), 6-3
* 2012 US Open final: Murray 7-6 (12/10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2
* 2012 Olympics SF: Murray 7-5, 7-5
* 2012 Miami final: Djokovic 6-1, 7-6 (7/4)
* 2012 Dubai SF: Murray 6-2, 7-5
* 2012 Aus Open SF: Djokovic 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (4/7), 6-1, 7-5
* 2011 Cincinnati final: Murray 6-4, 3-0 (retired)
* 2011 Rome SF: Djokovic 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7/2)
* 2011 Australian Open final: Djokovic 6-4, 6-2, 6-3
* 2009 Miami final: Murray 6-2, 7-5
* 2008 Cincinnati final: Murray 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/5)
* 2008 Toronto QF: Murray 6-3, 7-6 (7/3)
* 2008 Monte Carlo Round of 16: Djokovic 6-0, 6-4
* 2007 Miami SF: Djokovic 6-1, 6-0
* 2007 Indian Wells SF: Djokovic 6-2, 6-3
* 2006 Madrid Hard R16: Djokovic 1-6, 7-5, 6-3