Murray warms to major task as McIlroy joins well-wishers
Victoria Azarenka must have wondered what all the fuss was about. The world No 5 was minding her own business, going through a pre-match training routine with her coach and physical trainer, when 23 people came through the gate behind her and walked on to the adjoining practice court. Some were even carrying rackets.
Andy Murray's entourage can test the capacities of even the bigger player boxes at tournaments, but the scrum that formed before the 24-year-old Scot's lunchtime practice session yesterday was something else.
Most of those on court, to be fair, were there to record the very public first meeting of Britain's big Wimbledon hope and Rory McIlroy, the US Open golf champion.
"I'm a big tennis fan," McIlroy said. "I grew up watching Tim Henman here at Wimbledon and cheering him on every summer. Now that's been passed over to Andy. We're all behind him and, hopefully, he can win his first Grand Slam."
John McEnroe, who was also among the entourage, asked McIlroy if he had any advice for Murray. "Not really," McIlroy said. "He's playing awesome. He looked great yesterday. Keep doing what you're doing."
Murray, who had watched McIlroy win at Congressional the night before his first match at Wimbledon last week, asked the golfer about his upcoming plans.
Like Murray, McIlroy is a big boxing fan and said he would be practising for the next three days before travelling to Hamburg to watch Britain's David Haye fight Wladimir Klitschko for the heavyweight world title.
Murray, another aficionado of the noble art, has become friends with Haye since they were both training in Miami earlier this year.
Although Murray plays golf, he admitted his brother Jamie was the better player. He said he had tried a putting game which has been set up in the players' locker room, but was "terrible" at it.
"I don't do it that much," he said. "This year they've got this new thing that goes up a little ramp. There's water on the left and sand on the right and then the hole in the middle, which I've had a few goes at. I've actually missed the machine completely a few times. I blame the carpet."
The social niceties completed, McIlroy left to allow Murray to get on with the serious work of preparing for today's quarter-final. The world No 4 practised with the Canadian Daniel Nestor, one of the world's best doubles players and, more importantly, a big-serving left-hander like Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, who stands in the Scotsman's way of making the semi-finals. (© Independent News Service)