LONDON: Andy Murray believes his tearful reaction to losing the Wimbledon final has won him a place in the hearts of the British public after years struggling for their affections.
Murray sobbed openly during an on-court television interview in the immediate aftermath of his four-set defeat against Roger Federer in his maiden Wimbledon final earlier this month and since then he has been deluged with messages of support.
In the past, the 25-year-old Scot, who has irritated many British sports fans with his often surly demeanour during matches, might have feared any encounters with members of the public.
But now people are coming up to him to express their sympathy for the Wimbledon loss and to wish him well for the future.
There was certainly a huge groundswell of support for Murray as he returned to Centre Court for the first time since Wimbledon on Sunday.
The world number four is back at the All England Club for the Olympics and he received a noisy welcome and vociferous backing during his 6-3, 6-3 first round win over Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka.
“After the final it was different to what I'd experienced before, the support from friends, family, just people I bump into in the street, politicians, celebrities,” Murray said.
“It was overwhelming. I'm not used to that.
“I understand that sometimes in the past it wasn't always that easy to get behind me because on the court I didn't look particularly happy.
“But I think during Wimbledon, I just felt different on the court. I felt like I'd grown up a bit. I felt more mature. I felt like my demeanour was better.
“The support after the final made a huge difference to me, to my confidence, I wanted to get back on the practice court straight away, back in the gym, get myself ready for this tournament because I want to do my best.
“I want to achieve everything that I can. The only way of doing that is by giving 100 percent.”
Murray, who faces Finland's Jarkko Nieminen in the second round on Tuesday, has now been beaten in all four of his Grand Slam finals and in the past those defeats have triggered a slump in his form.
But the chance to go for gold at Wimbledon has been the ideal boost after losing to Federer and Murray is confident he can mount a strong challenge.
“I practised really well before the tournament started,” he said.
“I was saying to the guys on Tuesday, when it was getting closer, I was so pumped to play, I wanted the tournament to start tomorrow.
“I practised with Stan a few times last week and played really well against him. That gave me a bit of extra confidence going into the match today.
“I'm really up for the tournament. I want to be involved for as long as possible. I'm going to give it my best shot.”