Murray: There is something wrong with the work ethic of British players. When I turn up at our multi-million pound HQ no-one is there
By Alan Fraser
Last updated at 11:00 AM on 04th June 2008
Andy Murray has launched a searing attack on British tennis players, branding them lazy, demotivated and jealous of his success. The British No 1 questions the dedication of his fellow professionals and says they are too pampered to succeed.
'There is something wrong with the mentality and work ethic of most of the British players,' he claims in his newly published autobiography, Hitting Back.
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Frustrated: Britain's Andy Murray
'I turn up at the National Training Centre in Roehampton, the multimillion pound headquarters of British tennis, and no-one is there,' he complains.
On several occasions he has been unable to find a partner to practise with and is forced to ask a coach to ring round the other British players. Often they refuse, saying they don't play at weekends or claim to be unwell.
Astonishingly, he claims that a significant number of Britain's most promising players practised for barely half the days in a year. Murray contrasts their fitness regime with that of players at the academy in Spain where he trained. There, players would spend four-anda- half hours a day on court.
He cannot understand why coaches are so reluctant to enforce a greater work ethic.
Murray also questions the LTA's policy of recruiting top-name coaches to work with under-achieving British players.
He says they are working with players who 'don't really deserve it'. Incredibly, these renowned coaches who are used to working with the greats of the game, were 'teaching someone how to play tennis'.
While acknowledging that he benefited from his 18 months with the top American coach Brad Gilbert, whom the LTA funded, he argues that the governing body should not have spent so much money in this area. Instead, his fellow players need less experienced, but tough coaches, who will make them understand how hard they need to work to reach the top.
He said there was a great deal of jealousy at most of the tournaments and that players were too negative.
Murray recalls going to tournaments as a youngster where the other British players were so jealous of him they wanted him to lose. He says British teenagers are too pampered and do not understand the amount of effort put in by players from overseas.
He praises the Spanish system -where funding stops at 18 - as an incentive and believes that having to go to Spain himself, relying on his parents to fund him, made him work harder.
Murray also cannot understand the fuss made over the status of being British No 1, arguing that it has no worthwhile status in its own right. He believes only his world ranking matters - he is currently No 12, and peaked at No 8 a year ago.
But he is also critical of the general attitude towards success, complaining that people took pleasure in putting him down.
Elsewhere in his autobiography, Murray recalls the horror of the massacre at Dunblane Primary School in March 1996.
He was an eightyear- old pupil when loner Thomas Hamilton entered the school with four guns and fired 109 shots indiscriminately, murdering 16 children and a teacher before committing suicide. Murray and his older brother Jamie hid under the headmaster's desk.
Murray knew Hamilton, who ran the boys' club which he attended.
'He had been in my mum's car. It's obviously weird to think you had a murderer in your car sitting next to your mum.
'We used to go to the club and have fun. To find out he's a murderer was something my brain couldn't cope with.'
Murray says he still finds it hard to talk about the massacre and can remember little of the day itself, although he recalls singing songs in a classroom as teachers desperately tried to shield the children from the horror which had taken place in their school.
On the court, Murray's year has been mixed so far. He lost in the first round of the Australian Open in January to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France. He recovered quickly to claim tournament victories in Doha and Marseille and beat world No1 Roger Federer in March. But he was disappointed to go out of the French Open in the third round to Spain's Nicolas Almagro.
(Hitting Back, Random House £18.99).