Is it time for Murray to finally shed the monkey?

All England Notebook: The level of expectation built up by a success-starved nation weighs on Murray like the immense boulder of Sisyphus.

Andy Murray_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Andy Murray_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
There are moments when you cannot help but feel sorry for Andy Murray.
Pride of Britain if he wins, sour Scot if he loses, it really is all-or-nothing for the 24- year-old Brit when he comes to Wimbledon.
The level of expectation built up by a success-starved nation weighs on Murray like the immense boulder of Sisyphus.
According to Greek mythology, the king was punished by the gods by being forced to roll a massive boulder up a steep hill, only to see it always roll back down as he neared the summit, time and time again.
Sure, Murray is ensured the full backing of the fans whenever he is on court, but with no British man winning Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936, the cries and sighs of the crowd are quite often more of a burden than a benefit.
When Murray is flying high and humiliating his opponents, which is usually the case in the early rounds at the All England Club, the cheers from the stands are electrifying.
However, when the going gets tough and the tide turns against him, as it inevitably sometimes does during the latter stages of Wimbledon, the moans of disappointment and groans of anguish from the supporters are anything but helpful.
The relentless love showered on him by the locals is somewhat akin to a bear hug.
It may feel warm and comforting to start with but it isn’t long before it becomes a struggle to breathe.
Some people claim that Murray has home-court advantage at Wimbledon, but unlike in team sports, the Brit doesn’t play half of his match during the season on his “home” turf and he doesn’t frequent SW19 on a regular basis.
All he really has is the complete support of the stands, but it is seriously doubtful whether that is indeed an advantage rather than a disadvantage.
The hopes of millions rest on his every shot, and even newly weds Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge make sure to attend his matches. But Murray has coped with the pressure admirably well so far, on Monday beating dangerous Frenchman Richard Gasquet 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals.
Next up is a match he will be heavily favored to win against Spain’s Feliciano Lopez.
However, in the semis defending champion Rafael Nadal will likely await, with Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic probable opponents if he is to reach his first Wimbledon final.
The road to the trophy could hardly be more difficult, but Murray has complete faith in his abilities.
“I need to keep improving with each match,” Murray said when asked of the keys to success in the remainder of the tournament.
“It all comes down to taking your chances when you are playing the best players. You need to get yourself in the right positions and take them. I’m sure I will be challenged a lot in the next rounds and I just have to be ready for it.”
Already a three-time grand slam finalist, there should be no doubt that Murray is a truly superb player.
He will almost certainly win a slam, likely sooner rather than later.
However, the question on every Brit’s mind is will he do it for the first time at Centre Court next Sunday.
With what he has to overcome over the fortnight at Wimbledon, that would be as an impressive debut major title as the world of tennis has ever seen.