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The man who introduced Murray to Wimbledon

Jo Carter July 1, 2010
Mark Petchey played at Wimbledon every year between 1988 and 1998 © Getty Images

As Andy Murray sealed his place in the Wimbledon semi-finals for the second consecutive year, the man who saw him make his Wimbledon debut and guided him into the world's top 50, was playing in an exhibition doubles match.

Over on Court 12 on Wednesday evening, Mark Petchey, with partner Chris Wilkinson lost to 2001 Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic and 1997 finalist Cedric Pioline.

During his singles career, Petchey played at Wimbledon 11 times, making his debut in 1988 aged 17, ranked No. 984 in the world. His best result came in 1997, where he beat Jan Kroslak and a young Tommy Haas in straight sets to reach the third round for the first time.

There he met three-time champion and former world No. 1 Boris Becker on Court 1.

"It was great to play Boris, he's such an amazing guy," Petchey recalls. "I was coming through and to get the chance to play him on a big court was incredible.

"The man is larger than life. He walked up to me in the morning of our match and wished me good luck. Maybe it was gamesmanship, maybe it was psychological; it certainly worked!

"But he is one of those guys whose personality shows on the court that everybody likes, he is very genuine and comfortable to be around, and it is not always the case."

Petchey retired the following year after one last appearance at the All England Club and after a break to start a family, moved into coaching where he worked with the legendary athletics coach and manager Kim McDonald who had branched out into tennis.

"Kim worked mainly in athletics but asked me to work with a Croatian girl, Silvija Talaja, who got into the top 20 while I was working with her and Tina Pisnik, a Slovenian girl," Petchey said.

We put in a lot of miles, both air miles and miles on the court

Petchey then moved into television, where he worked as a commentator for Sky Sports, before he was invited to work for the men's performance programme at the Lawn Tennis Association, where he stayed for 18 months before taking up the role as temporary coach for Murray in June 2005.

"In the ten months I worked with Andy it was a really successful period," he said. "He was ranked outside the top 400 and when I left he was inside the top 50.

"There was a lot of pressure on him, having made a lot of noise, particularly on the grass at Wimbledon, and everyone expected a lot of him and he delivered. We put in a lot of miles, both air miles and miles on the court."

After parting company with Murray in April 2006, Petchey returned to the commentary box, where he is part of the BBC's coverage of Wimbledon.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Jo Carter Close
Jo Carter is an assistant editor of ESPN.co.uk