Tennis: Pressure eases but still major nerves for Murray

Tennis player Andy Murray of Britain speaks during a news conference after Arthur Ashe Kids' Day at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York August 24, 2013. Andy Murray says there is less pressure upon him now that he has become
Tennis player Andy Murray of Britain speaks during a news conference after Arthur Ashe Kids' Day at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York August 24, 2013. Andy Murray says there is less pressure upon him now that he has become the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win a Grand Slam title. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Andy Murray says there is less pressure upon him now that he has become the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win a Grand Slam title.

But the reigning Wimbledon and US Open champion knows there will be plenty of nerves when he steps on the hard courts to defend last year's breakthrough title at Flushing Meadows.

"I think there is less pressure," Murray said. "Before the first match there will be nerves - I expect to be pretty nervous because it's a new experience and it's different.

"But I think once the tournament gets going, I don't think it changes. There was a lot of pressure on me for a lot of years to win a Grand Slam and then same sort of thing at Wimbledon. I wouldn't imagine it would be the same."

The 26-year-old Scot begins defending his US Open crown against Frenchman Michael Llodra with a potential quarter-final against Czech fifth seed Tomas Berdych, who eliminated Murray in a Cincinnati quarter-final earlier this month, his final match before the Open.

"It's a tough match. Llodra is tricky player, serves well, very good hands and he's very unpredictable," Murray said.

"You need to be switched on all the time against him and play a solid match. You can't have too many ups and downs against him because he will capitalize on that."

Murray comes off an emotional Wimbledon triumph that ended a 77-year wait for a British man to win a Slam title on home grass, the stress and tension of the moment more than Murray's memory could contain.

"I couldn't even remember what happened on the last point," Murray said.

"It was a stressful last game. Not the hardest game I had to play in my career for a number of reasons. I wouldn't imagine I'd play another one like it for the rest of my life."

Murray found himself enjoying the moments in his return to Arthur Ashe Stadium this week than he did after his dramatic first Slam title last year.

"It was nice," Murray said. "I was so relieved that night that I maybe didn't have the chance to enjoy it as much as Wimbledon or the Olympics, for example.

"There was so much relief last year that I wasn't necessarily enjoying it as much as I should have. So when I came back and practiced on the Arthur Ashe court the memories came back, and that was nice."

Murray's emphasis has been so great on winning Slam titles that another unattained goal within reach, the world number one ranking, has for now become secondary.

"Everyone is motivated by different things," Murray said. "My whole career for four, five, six years back, it was about winning Grand Slams. That was what gave me the motivation to train.

"When I did lose in a Grand Slam, that was what was most disappointing for me. I could win a Masters Series event and the first question I would get asked when I came in was, 'When are you going to win a Grand Slam?' It wasn't, 'When are you going to get to No. 1?' "My motivation was to try to win Grand Slams so that, I would imagine, would be the case for the rest of my career."