Simon Reed

Murray sizzling, but Fed still the favourite

Simon Reed

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You have to say that Andy Murray's form in winning Queen's was absolutely sensational and I'm not sure I've ever seen him playing better that he did against Andy Roddick in the semi-finals.

However, I'm still not sure how significant the victory will be when it comes to Wimbledon.

The form that he showed at Queen's, on grass, suggests he is playing better than anyone else going into the tournament, but does that mean he is going to win the big one at Wimbledon? Probably not.

Personally, I have Roger Federer as a very strong favourite for Wimbledon - Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are in the second tier for me, and Murray's victory at Queen's pushes him close to that level, I put all three of them as joint-second favourites.

However, what Federer did at Roland Garros, particularly during the semi-final against Djokovic, showed me he is pretty close to where he was when he was winning Grand Slams for fun.

When you add into the mix his Wimbledon pedigree, then I think you have the most likely winner of the tournament.

Of course it was Nadal who actually won the French Open, but I never got the sense in Paris that Rafa was showing his best form. That might sound perverse considering he won the event - but on clay - you really expect him to be beating Federer easier than he did.

I would have my doubts over Roger if it ended up as a Nadal v Federer final, as even if those two were playing a decider on ice, you would have to back Nadal given their history and the way he seems to be able to get under Federer's skin, but I could actually see Rafa getting knocked off before we get down to the last two.

Going back to Murray though, and he answered a lot of questions with his form at Queen's. He showed that he doesn't need a coach; that the trough of form he showed post-Australia is way, way behind him; that his body language has improved, and just that he is in decent place in general.

However, the unfortunate reality for Murray remains that he is playing in the same era as two (and possibly three) of the greatest players the game has ever seen.

That fact alone is why he might never win a Grand Slam.

One thing I don't think will get to him though is the pressure and expectation which comes with being a British contender at Wimbledon.

The victory at Queen's will ramp up the hype even more leading up to the event but I don't think that is an issue.

People used to say that the intense expectation used to hamstring Tim Henman and that it has done the same to Murray, but I can't agree with that.

When you look at Tim, there were times when he used that excitement to get him through tough matches and I believe Andy has the capability to use that to his advantage even more.

I read a quote from Andy the other day where he said: "Am I going to stop reading the papers, and stop watching TV during Wimbledon? No, because then I would be changing the things that have made me the top four player that I am."

Andy is an intelligent guy - he knows who he should and shouldn't listen to and any unhelpful rubbish he hears, he will discard.

When you look at Tim's record at Wimbledon, it was better there than at any other venue, and I believe Murray has the tools to do something similar.

Andy, like all players, does put in some bad performances and some of them have come at Wimbledon, but I don't think it is a result of pressure.


A quick word for James Ward on his superb run to the semi-finals at Queen's. You have to say he has got some tools: he has a very good serve, a decent forehand, his ground-strokes are pretty strong but while this victory does push him up a level, I think it would be wrong to get too carried away.

His ranking has gone up from 216 to 170 and I would like to see him pushing for the top 100 before the end of the year, but it is interesting that his results outside of the UK have been poor and that is what he has got to work on.

He has to start delivering at some of those soulless tournaments in various parts of the world where there won't be too many people around shouting 'come on James' and he has to do all the hard work himself.

However, if he can significantly improve at those types of events then he has the potential to be a top 100 player - although I don't see him getting much higher than that.

For Britain though, this last week is great as it will provide James with some vital experience when it comes to Davis Cup play.

No matter what Andy does in regards Davis Cup in the future, we still need to win other matches and James has played well in Davis Cup matches in the last year and can become a pivotal player for the team - either as the number one guy, or hopefully as number two behind Andy.

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