LONDON, Jun 15 – Andy Murray admits he will have to produce the form of his life to follow his Queen's triumph with victory at Wimbledon.Murray clinched his fourth ATP Tour title this year on Sunday as he became the first Briton since Bunny Austin in 1938 to win the pre-Wimbledon warm-up event at Queen’s.
With a first grasscourt trophy safely secured thanks to his 7-5, 6-4 win over America’s James Blake, Murray can turn his attention to ending an even longer wait for British success at Wimbledon.
For over a decade it was Tim Henman who laboured in vain to hold aloft the famous gold trophy in south-west London. Now it is Murray who has to shoulder the burden of landing Britain’s first men’s singles title since Fred Perry in 1936.
The world number three has enjoyed a superb year and is firmly established as one of the strongest contenders to break Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s All-England Club duopoly.
But Murray, 22, knows he will have to raise his game to another level if he wants to take the title from defending champion Nadal.
"I go into every tournament with the mentality that I’m going to win it, but I know I’ll have to play my best tennis ever to do it (at Wimbledon)," he said.
"I’m not planning on getting caught up in the whole hype because I don’t think that helps. I’m going to try and just concentrate on playing and winning matches.
"A lot of people don’t understand how tough it is. And especially right now with the guys that are in front of me in the rankings, and even the ones that are just behind me.
"In my opinion, Roger and Rafa are the two best ever. I think they’ll have the most Grand Slam titles between them by the time they finish.
"They’ve competed in so many and won so many of the big tournaments the last few years. So I’m going to have to beat them if I want to do it.
"That’s not an easy thing to do. And even if I’m playing great, I can still lose that match.
"That’s why no one in Britain’s done it for such a long time, because it is that difficult."
Murray’s first Wimbledon appearance in 2005 ended in a five-set defeat to David Nalbandian in which the Scot, visibly wilting as the match went on, squandered a two-set lead.
He was only a callow teenager then, but Murray now possesses one of the most accurate serves in the game and the ability to mix devastating groundstrokes with the subtlety of a more mature player.
Despite his impressive progress, Murray believes he is still some way short of getting the most out of his attributes.
"I think I can still get stronger. In a year and a half’s time I think I’ll be close to my peak, and peaks don’t normally last that long, so I hope that I can make the best use of it," he said.
"But I’m playing very well just now. I feel physically strong and I’ll work on my fitness the next four or five days going into Wimbledon. Hopefully that will make a difference there."
While Murray heads to Wimbledon in good heart, Blake was left to rue a second Queen’s final defeat in four years.
The American conceded Murray was the better player on the day but stopped short of naming him a favourite for Wimbledon.
"I’m not an odds maker but I’d go with Federer as the favourite," Blake said. "He’s proven to be the best grasscourt player over the last six or seven years and coming off the high of winning the French Open, I would think he’s got to be feeling pretty darn good.
"The fact that he’s always there that last weekend, once he gets to that point, he’s got the experience and got the confidence, so there’s no reason he wouldn’t be the favourite."