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Goran Ivanisevic

Wimbledon 2017: Ivanisevic predicts big things for Murray in SW19 Grand Slam

As the man to famously deny Tim Henman a Wimbledon final appearance 16 years ago, Goran Ivanisevic is well aware of what it takes to dash the hopes of the nation.

Tomorrow will see Dustin Brown trying to do something similar and dump defending champion Andy Murray out of the draw in the second round.

But while the dreadlocked German has promised to try and take Murray out of his comfort zone, 2001 champion Ivanisevic believes it will not be enough to stop the world number one in his tracks.

Murray opened his campaign on Monday with a comfortable straight sets victory over lucky loser Alexander Bublik, in the process dampening any pre-tournament worries about his troublesome left hip.

The 30-year-old – who has struggled with injury and illness in 2017 – has lost to players ranked 50 or below on four occasions already this year. Prior to this season, it was that same number, but over the course of the last four years combined.

Lower ranked players daring to challenge the established order of the top players – it’s what makes the game so entertaining.

But when it comes to Slams, and Wimbledon in particular, seasoned campaigner Murray comes into his own – reaching at least the quarter-final stage in each of the last nine years.

And it is a habit Ivanisevic believes Brown, or in fact any other challenger in the opening week of this year’s All England Championships at least, will find hard to break.

“As soon as Andy steps on the court he is ready to defend his title,” said Ivanisevic, a veteran of 51 Grand Slam appearances between 1988 and 2004.

“It doesn’t matter of form or not, with a Slam, everything is different – it’s new rules, new tennis.

“It’s not easy to play at a high level all the time. But he is ready, as soon he passes the first week I think the craziness here is going to go high and everybody is going to expect big things.

“Last year in general, the way he played was just outstanding. It is hard to keep up that level.

“I was quite surprised the way he started the year so poorly by his standards.

“I don’t think it’s a lack of motivation. It just happens. The players don’t respect you on the court anymore.

“They think they can beat you. You start to miss a few shots and you start to ask yourself things and you question every shot. You start to lose some strange matches you shouldn’t lose.

“But like I said, in a Grand Slam, best of five, it’s easier to beat you in two sets than five.”

Brown is no stranger to causing upsets at SW19 having famously sent Rafael Nadal packing in the second round two years ago.

He was at his energetic best again on Monday, pleasing the crowd with his array of shots, including a flying volley on the way to beating Joao Sousa.

But the world number 97 conceded the conditions surrounding the grass courts this year were not exactly to his liking, admitting his traditional serve-volley game could suffer as a result against Murray.

“Andy is one of the best returners out there,” he said. “I feel like the balls are a lot slower and it’s not making it as easy to play aggressive and play only serve and volley.

“Every surface has its own characteristics, and Wimbledon and grass courts should be faster.

“That’s a little sad, because personally I think a lot of guys that are attacking and playing serve and volley, people like Feliciano Lopez or Gilles Muller, they are all playing a lot less serve and volley.

“I think that’s one of the things because everything is playing pretty slow.

“Obviously it’s an honour playing against Andy. Last time we played was US Open 2010 and he won in three sets. We’ll see what happens out there this time.”

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