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Novak Djokovic of Serbia listens to his coach Boris Becker during a practice session ahead of the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London, Sunday June 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
England’s sports hopes rest on Murray at Wimbledon
Tennis » Defending champion shrugs off heavy pressure.
First Published Jun 22 2014 09:43 pm • Last Updated Jun 22 2014 10:47 pm

London • The first question posed to Andy Murray at his pre-Wimbledon news conference concerned England’s early exit from the World Cup and how the tennis player might feel "to have the hopes of a despondent nation" on his shoulders.

Murray paused, before replying with a single word: "Wow."

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Then Murray smiled and again said, "Wow."

Welcome back to the All England Club, Andy, where the attention and expectations are unlike those heaped on any tennis player at any other tournament.

Murray has handled it all quite well, reaching at least the semifinals five consecutive times, getting to the final in 2012 before losing to Roger Federer, and then in 2013 becoming the first British man in 77 years to win Wimbledon. He’ll open his title defense Monday on Centre Court against David Goffin of Belgium, who has lost seven Grand Slam matches in a row.

After composing himself, Murray did get around to answering Sunday’s opening query: "To be honest, I don’t feel too much different than I did a few days ago. I’m here to try and win the tournament. That’s it."

A few other things to know about Wimbledon on Monday:

Novak and Boris: Boris Becker won three Wimbledon titles in the 1980s and was a runner-up four times, and now he’s helping coach No. 1-seeded Novak Djokovic. "This is his surface. This is his home," said Djokovic, the 2011 champion and 2013 runner-up. Assuming Djokovic’s problematic right wrist is healthy, his first match hardly shapes up as a test. His opponent, Andrey Golubev, has lost nine matches in a row on grass.

Venus on court 2 • Venus Williams has won five singles trophies at the All England Club, but she hasn’t won a match there since 2011. She lost in the first round on Court 2 in 2012, then missed Wimbledon last year with a back injury. On Monday, the 30th-seeded Williams returns to Court 2, facing Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor.

Azarenka eyes a win • Victoria Azarenka is a two-time Australian Open champion, a two-time Wimbledon semifinalist and a former No. 1, but it’s hard to know what to expect from her Monday. It’s been five months since she won a match, mainly because of a left foot injury. She plays on Court 1 against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, a Wimbledon semifinalist way back in 1999.


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Dimitrov vs. Harrison • For all the potential of 11th-seeded Grigor Dimitrov, the 23-year-old Bulgarian is awaiting a real breakthrough at a Grand Slam tournament. He has lost in the first round in seven of his 15 previous appearances. At Wimbledon, he’s never been past the second round.



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