Andy’s Wimbledon Column
When I first played at Wimbledon I ate pizza before my matches and was staying in someone’s basement, so I’ve come a pretty long way.
I didn’t actually know that I was through to my 10th Wimbledon quarter-final until someone told me after Monday’s match.
This is the tournament, and Centre Court is the place, where I’ve played my best tennis, and I guess that consistency proves it.
I lost that first quarter-final in 2008 in straight sets to Rafael Nadal, and I must admit I don’t remember that much about it now. I must have played about 600 matches since then and it’s the very earliest ones that have really stuck in my mind.
I played juniors at Wimbledon in 2004 and then seniors for the first time in 2005, and I have much clearer memories of that whole experience.
I can vividly remember specific moments of my second-round match against Radek Stepanek, and then the third-round match against David Nalbandian on Centre Court I’ve actually watched back quite a few times – I don’t know why.
I know I was nervous but I just had no expectation to do well, so it was completely different to the kind of nerves I get now.
When I went to speak to the press I just said whatever I was thinking, whatever was on my mind. There was no filter, no concept of everything else that goes on at an event this big.
Of course I knew it was important but in truth I was not really aware of how big a deal Wimbledon was, and how much focus there was on this event. I was so young, I just wasn’t aware of it. I’d been playing tiny events just a few weeks before that.
And, yes, I was enjoying pizza for dinner before facing some of the best players in the world.
I was staying in the basement of a house in Wimbledon village with my mum, my brother, and Kim stayed there a little bit. We just walked down the hill to the All England Club most of the time.
I do remember fairly clearly that I didn’t eat well. With things like diet, we just didn’t know any better and I was very naïve.
‘I’m always keen to learn something where I can’
I chatted to the boxers Carl Froch and David Haye when I was walking back to the locker room after Monday’s match – it’s always flattering when other athletes come and watch you play.
I know Carl and David quite well, and it’s one of the perks of the job that I get to meet people from across loads of different sports and chat to them about what they do.
It depends on the sport but there’s often quite a bit you can apply to your own. I’m always keen to learn something where I can.
I’ve followed boxing since I was quite young, so I feel like I have a little bit more awareness of what’s happening with that than some other sports, and I’ve watched quite a lot of boxers train.
There are lots of boxers I’d like to spend a bit of time with. I met Manny Pacquiao, but it was just to say hi and take a picture with when I was in the Philippines.
There are loads of other athletes I’d like to meet if I knew I could give them a bit of a grilling, ask them whatever I wanted and guarantee I’d get a reply!
‘Lions game was great but a slight anti-climax’
I watched the final Lions Test against New Zealand, but I didn’t play rugby when I was growing up – which is strange in Scotland, because it’s a pretty big sport – so I don’t know loads about it.
I understand the rules but rugby is one of those sports I just watch hoping that whoever I’m supporting wins.
I wasn’t shouting at the screen on Saturday morning but it was pretty tight at the end, and New Zealand were only a couple of metres from scoring.
It was a great game but just felt like a slight anti-climax at the end because it finished in a draw.
The players didn’t know whether to celebrate or not, but that’s sport sometimes.
That’s one situation we don’t have to worry about in tennis – I know I won’t be walking off court after a draw on Wednesday.
‘I’m hitting the ball and moving better’
I might be through to my 10th quarter-final but the nerves don’t disappear, you just learn to handle them better.
Sam Querrey will be a tough opponent and I can’t afford to play too many loose service games because he’s got a big serve and is tough to break.
The good thing I was hitting the ball better on Monday, was more aggressive and moving better, which all gives me confidence.
I just need to prepare well, work on a game plan with my team and make sure I avoid having pizza for dinner on Tuesday night!