© Ella Ling

Andy Murray

Sampras exclusive: Murray will win a slam


Exclusive Pete Sampras interview: Sampras on how Andy Murray needs to have “a good first week” at the grand slams if he is to win a first major: ‘It just seems sometimes that he battles the first week, and when the second week comes round, he is a little tired and mentally worn out.” Sampras also recalls doing a 30-mile bike ride through the snow with Ivan Lendl, and how Lendl has always been a practical joker.

Sampras on what Lendl has done for Murray’s chances of winning a slam
“I think mentally Andy’s getting closer to believing he can beat the guys – obviously he has beaten these players – but is just trying to put it together in a major championship. He’s getting closer. I think the key for Andy is getting through an easy first week. It just seems he battles the first week and when the second week comes round, he is a little tired and mentally worn out. Whereas if he can get through a good first week and he’s fresh for the second and gives it a good push, he could very well win a major. I think Andy will win a major, it’s just trying to get over that hurdle. I think mentally he’s getting closer, I think he believes it now, he sees it now. Before, he was definitely one of the favourites for all these majors. He can do it, he’s got to put it all together. Ivan is someone who is very smart, he knows sort of what Andy’s going through. Andy seems to be looking a little more positive out there. In the past he was a little bit hard on himself and he could very well win Wimbledon or the Open. I think the French will be tough but he’s well on his way. I have said I thought Andy will win a major this year and I stick to that. Let’s see if he does.
Sampras on how Lendl helped him when he was a teenager
“We spent some time together when I was 16 years old and had just turned pro. During Masters week, he invited me to his house in Connecticut, we talked, we had to do a 30-mile bike ride through the snow – I didn’t appreciate that too much. He just opened my eyes to someone who worked very hard, who was very focused on his schedule, on his week, it was a good eye-opener for me, as a 16-year-old trying to be out here on the tour. And just through the years I’ve always got along well with Ivan. I have a lot of respect for him and what he meant. We practised a little bit, we might have played doubles (they did), I’m not sure where, but we’ve always got along well but we have a lot of respect for one another, we like being around each other’s company and he’s someone I always looked up to, even though he’d been dominant in the game for many years, which is not easy to do. What can I say? We always hit it off. He didn’t publicly say, ‘I’m helping out young kids’, he just kept that private. He wasn’t looking for PR. But he had some players come up to his house, Jared Palmer I remember spent some time with him, the young American. I think he just wanted to have some new energy around and practise. He was one of those guys who loved playing little games, little challenges, playing jokes and not a lot of people saw that side to Ivan. And the fact he kept that private, I respect that.”
Next week on The Tennis Space: Pete Sampras talks about his friend Roger Federer, “a young 30-year-old” who is avoiding tennis “burnout”, who he expects to have more success and who could yet surpass his record for weeks at No 1