'Andy Murray Will Make It Back As A Singles Competitor' Says Tim Henman

Tim Henman used to provide the British public with equal measures of delight and anguish on summer evenings. Now 'Tiger Tim' commentates for BBC Sport and thinks it won't be long till we see Andy Murray on court on his own.

The screams of 'come on Tim' that filled Wimbledon from the mid 90s to the mid 00s could be heard with tinges of many emotions in them. These days the former British number one is like the rest of us, watching and hoping for British success.

In the men's tournament that might be slightly reduced with Andy Murray's injury problems, that nearly caused him to retire, restricting him to doubles tennis. But 'Tiger Tim' believes that Murray could soon be back on court as a singles competitor.

Andy Murray recently returned to play doubles at Queen's but do you think he can make a comeback to singles?

Tim: I think he will yeah. I mean there's obviously need to keep building up the strength. Yeah, I'm optimistic.

I'm optimistic that it [doubles] can be a stepping stone. Doubles is certainly putting far less stress on the body, there's less court to cover and you know, you can build up the confidence in his movement and not have any setbacks.

So I think this is as I said part of the journey to getting back onto the single's court and that's I think where everyone like would like to see.

Murray and partner Feliciano Lopez won the doubles at Queen's. Image: PA Images
Murray and partner Feliciano Lopez won the doubles at Queen's. Image: PA Images

How would you assess his return at Queen's?

Tim: I'd seen a lot of him, he'd been practicing at Wimbledon a fair amount. I think it was great for him mentally, even before winning the tournament, because he'd had enough time away from the game and it can get a tad tedious and monotonous when you're just doing the rehab. And it was good that it put so much attention on a doubles competition.

What did you make of Jo Konta's return to Grand Slam form at the French Open?

Tim: Amazing! It was fantastic to watch and I think it really was a classic example of someone with momentum and she played well on the clay. It's the surface that she's probably struggled a little bit in the past, but she made the final in Morocco, the final in the Italian Open and she continued that form and and you know a good example of you reap what you sow. she puts an enormous amount of effort.

Konta reached the semi final at Roland Garros, beating Sloane Stephens in the quarter. Image: PA Images
Konta reached the semi final at Roland Garros, beating Sloane Stephens in the quarter. Image: PA Images

And do you think she can take that form and go further than she has done at previous Wimbledons?

When you look at the women's game, there's a lot of very good players, but you know, I don't think that there's necessarily a dominant force. There's been Serena obviously, but I think she's finding harder as she gets older. So there's a lot of opportunities for the others.

There's been a roof on Centre Court since 2009 and now there's one on Court One, but would you be a former Wimbledon champion if there was one in 2001?

Tim: You know, there would have still been a delay against Goran [Ivanisevic] and once you have a delay in the match that can ruin the rhythm of things. So, you know, there were plenty of matches that I had a break in and then was able to turn it around when I was losing. So it's swings and roundabouts but there's no doubt if I could if I could play one match again in my career it would definitely be the 2001 semi-final.

Court One with its new roof. Image: PA Images
Court One with its new roof. Image: PA Images

Tim's heartbreaking loss in 2001, how different things might have been. Image: PA Images
Tim's heartbreaking loss in 2001, how different things might have been. Image: PA Images

What are your memories from those summers when you had the whole country gripped?

Tim: Fulfilling a dream. My mum took me to Wimbledon for the first time when I was six and that was the first time I knew what I wanted to do, I wanted to play at Wimbledon and be a professional player. So those summers was me living my dream.

I absolutely loved it. If I could have played my whole career on one court it would have been on centre court. Stand out moments would have been my first match ever, I played Kafelnikov, when he was French champion, in the first round in '96 and beat him 7-5 in the fifth. I think when I played on the middle sunday it was only the second time it had ever happened, in 1997, and certainly wasn't one of my best matches but it was one of the best atmospheres, I won 14-12 in the fifth. Those type of memories are always going to be special. You know, probably beating Federer on in 2001.

It's always been my favourite tournament and it's the best and most prestigious tournament in my opinion. With my involvement with the club committee and commentary on BBC it's great to still be a part of it.

Crowds now often flock to Henman Hill to watch Murray. Image: PA Images
Crowds now often flock to Henman Hill to watch Murray. Image: PA Images

What's it like having Henman Hill named after you?

Tim: It's amazing. I mean my kids come to Wimbledon occasionally and you know, they go and sit on the hill and they find it pretty amusing and something that sort of makes me reflect on great times.

Do you enjoy covering the tournament for the BBC?

Tim: It's great. Obviously I'm involved in the tournament in a few different ways, shapes and forms, but the BBC is part of the tradition of the tournament. They've been there for a long 80-plus years in television, 90-plus years in radio. The viewing figures are amazing and it's obviously a special tournament with the best players in the world. So it's great to be a part of.

Wimbledon 2019 will be on BBC TV, radio and online from 1 July

Ryan Sidle

Ryan is a writer for SPORTbible. He covers all sport from football, formula one, cricket, rugby, tennis, athletics, mma and wrestling. He obviously hates YOUR football team and has no interest in synchronised swimming.

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