Andy Murray has received a confidence boost as he returns to the singles at Wimbledon after a four-year absence – thanks to his friend and rival Roger Federer.
I'm delighted that I can be back competing here (Wimbledon) again. I'm most excited about being in front of a big crowd and the fans. That's really something I've missed a lot Andy Murray
The two-time champion, who has struggled with hip problems, is scheduled for third match on Centre Court against 24th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili on the opening day of the Championships cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
And a practice with Federer, chasing a record ninth crown after his own extended injury problems, and others has put Murray, world No.1 when he last entered the singles, in the mood.
Wild card Murray, 34 and ranked 119, said: “The way that I’ve been performing in my practices with top players, I’m not going out there and getting whacked.
“I’m competing well with all of the players that I practised with. That’s the really positive thing for me. That’s one of the reasons why I’m sure that if my body holds up that I can do well and can compete with these guys on the biggest stages. I think how you perform in them can give you some knowledge about where you are.
“I’ll just go out there and I’ll compete for every point. If my body hurts afterwards, fine. It’s more the build-up that’s the hard part, knowing how much to push, having the mentality to really go for it in training.
“Getting to play with Roger was really cool for me. They’re the sort of things that probably like six, seven years ago I wouldn’t have given any thought to it. I would have seen that as just being a practice session pre-major with a top player, and focusing kind of on myself.
“I’m probably appreciating these things more. When I take a step back from that, as a tennis fan, getting to play with Roger Federer two days before Wimbledon, it’s really great.
“I’m delighted that I can be back competing here (Wimbledon) again.
“I’m most excited about being in front of a big crowd and the fans. That’s really something I’ve missed a lot.
Murray will face Basilashvili for the first time.
His 29-year-old Georgian opponent has been involved a legal case relating allegations of domestic abuse after being charged of assaulting his former wife in June 2020.
The Brit last Novembe, called for the ATP to take domestic abuse cases “extremely seriously” in the wake of German Alexander Zverev denying “claims by Olya Sharypova that he had abused her during their long relationship”.
Federer, who has had knee surgeries, said: “It was very nice sharing a court again with Andy. I thought he looked good.
“I hope he can go deep here or have a decent run. I think we both back our chances here.”
Federer, 39, is considering playing the Tokyo Olympics. The Swiss was beaten for gold in London in 2012 by Murray, who has announced he will bid for a third successive Games crown.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion said: “Still my feeling is I would like to go to the Olympics. I would like to play as many tournaments as possible,” said Federer, who won silver at London 2012 after losing the final to Murray.
“At the moment things are not as simple as in the past. With age you have to be more selective. You can’t play it all.
“We’re going to reassess the situation after Wimbledon because, if I play really good here or really bad, I think it has an impact on how everything might look for the summer.”
Meanwhile, Murray has inspired Jack Draper as the 19-year-old Brit takes on reigning champion Novak Djokovic in the opening match on Centre.
Wild card Draper, a quarter-finalist at Queen’s Club, witnessed Murray defeat Djokovic in 2013 to become the first home player in 77 years to lift the most coveted men’s trophy in tennis.
Draper, who will pick Murray’s brains about his Serbian opponent, said: “That moment I saw him and I was really inspired by all that he’d achieved and it gave me the confidence that potentially I could do this one day.
Speaking to the Western Telegraph, he added: “What an opportunity for me to play against the best player in the world. I’m definitely going to relish the opportunity and I’m really looking forward to it. To be on Wimbledon Centre Court opening the Championships with him is something that’s amazing.”