ANDY MURRAY has declared he is relishing the challenge of defending his Wimbledon title, crediting his new coach Amelie Mauresmo for keeping him calm amid the annual publicity storm that engulfs the Scot at the home of tennis.
"After winning it last year, the pressure of wanting to win was finally released. Obviously I'm still feeling the pressure and the nerves but this year they are completely different. I like having the nerves and I'm able to use them positively," said Murray yesterday after practice at Aorangi Park in Wimbledon.
Of his straight-sets triumph over Novak Djokovic last year, he added: "I had worked very hard for a long time in order to get myself into a position where I was able to win."
Murray will play Kevin Anderson of South Africa on Centre Court today for a place in the quarter-finals and he will be watched from the players' box by Mauresmo, who has been appointed initially for the short term but who has immediately made a favourable impression.
"It's great having Amelie around. She's a very calm person but also incredibly supportive, so naturally that helps me," said the world No.5 "She's also a great listener, and if I have any concerns she'll listen to them and then we'll work through them in practice. She has been over to the house a few times but she's not living with us. It's quite important to try to give each other space, particularly during the grand slams as you can spend a lot of time together."
The Wimbledon victory put Murray into the forefront of British life and he admitted it had been "pretty crazy" at first.
But he added: "To be honest, not that much has changed on the court. After I won a lot of the players knew how big it was for a British man to win Wimbledon so they were all thrilled for me. Off the court, obviously the immediate aftermath was pretty crazy but it calmed down after a few weeks. I still get recognised a lot though. It's safe to say I've been asked for more 'selfies' in the last 12 months than ever before."
He expects a tough match against the big-serving Anderson. They have played twice, each winning once. They both have homes in Miami and sometimes practise together during the winter training block.
"I was happy to see him win it," said Anderson of Murray's victory at Wimbledon, ending a British drought of 77 years in the men's singles. "I really enjoy watching Novak [Djokovic] playing. But you couldn't help but hope for Andy last year. At this tournament, given the history, I think he had a lot of support - even from a lot of the other tennis players.
"But he has won it now - so I guess there's no need for him to go on and win two in a row."
Anderson's declaration for Murray at Wimbledon was strictly for 2013. He was in the Scot's corner for one special match. Today, though, the gloves will be off as the 6ft 8in world No.18 comes out swinging against the defending champion.