Sir Alex Ferguson provided Andy Murray some immediate post-match analysis, but there was no requirement for the hair dryer treatment after another straight sets victory at Wimbledon.
The former Manchester United manager was watching from the Royal Box and spent several minutes chatting with the defending champion after he booked his quarter-final progress against Kevin Anderson. After all, Murray is exactly Ferguson’s sort of sportsman – hard-working, grounded, not obsessed by celebrity and just a little bit grumpy.
“We talked for a few minutes. He didn’t mention anything technical, just some things he observed while watching me, the mental stuff like how you respond to tough or tight situations,” said the No.3 seed.
“Obviously you’re going to listen to someone like him. He’s witnessed a lot of tight sporting occasions. He obviously knows his stuff.”
This was Murray’s toughest match yet, but there was never a point when he looked like he was going to throw it away.
No-one has more experience playing under Wimbledon’s roof than Murray, but it was clear his opponent rallied when the match shifted from outdoors to indoors, as rain again played havoc with the Wimbledon schedule.
Two years ago his Wimbledon final with Roger Federer shifted when the roof closed and Murray was dominating against Anderson until rain forced the players off the court. When they returned his South African opponent raised his levels, Murray even had to save a set point before he secured his progress 6-4, 6-3, 7-6.
“I was a bit disappointed with how I started under the roof,” he admitted.
“Obviously everything was going my way, but when we stopped and closed the roof, the conditions changed. Everyone will tell you there’s a big difference between playing indoors and outdoors. It changes the way the court plays and I didn’t adapt quick enough.
“When we came back out, I was a little bit tentative. I still created many chances, but I gave him a few opportunities too.”
The South African had hit 63 aces in his first three matches, but Murray is one of the sport’s best returners – and he duly took advantage of his rival’s biggest weapon. But Anderson acknowledged the delay halted his rival’s momentum.
“I definitely felt I played better in the second half of the match after the rain delay,” said Anderson. “It was the first time I’ve played Andy on grass. He neutralises my biggest strengths on it a lot better than most people I play. He was reading my serve really well, but after the break I picked up my game. I relaxed and I served better and it was much more of a contest.”
Murray will now take on Grigor Dimitrov, the recent winner at Queen’s Club who was a straights sets winner over Leonardo Mayer, and Anderson believes he’ll be tough to beat.
“Grigor is going to have to play very well if he wants to beat Andy,” he said.
“He’s moving great and that’s a big part of his game, especially on the grass. I think that’s a big contributor to why he’s had so much success on this surface.”
Dimitrov is hoping a successful Wimbledon will help him shed the unwanted nicknames he has been given in his career.
He’s rather fed-up with being labelled ‘Mr Sharapova’ due to his off-court relationship with French Open champion Maria, but he’s more angry about comparisons to Federer.
The Bulgarian was dubbed ‘Baby Fed’ when he broke onto the ATP Tour because of his similar playing style to the seven-time Wimbledon champion. He was initially flattered, but the comparison soon began to cramp his style.
“I think at the beginning of his career it was hard for him because everyone was comparing him to Federer,” added Murray. “It’s impossible to live up to what Roger’s achieved, maybe no one again will ever win that many slams. I know Rafa’s got a shot, but it’s going to take a while I think before someone wins 18, 19 majors again. So that would have been tough for him at the beginning of his career.
“However, now he’s starting to come into his prime. He’s won a lot of matches this year. He’s a tough player and it will be a hard match for me.”
• AS the Official Banking Partner of The Championships, HSBC is helping fans get closer to Wimbledon by giving them the chance to win a coaching clinic with Tim Henman. For further information, visit www.wimbledon.com/hsbc