Murray, who is British men’s No1 and a three-time Grand Slam runner-up, blamed an unprofessional attitude for his first round straight-sets loss at the 2008 Olympics to Taipei’s world No77 Lu Yen-Hsun.
But last month the 25-year-old insisted that in sporting terms the Olympics are bigger than winning a Grand Slam and topping the podium would provide the ultimate moment – a sentiment not shared by Croft.
“Andy is one of the best players in the world and has as much chance as any of the top guys at winning the Olympic gold medal,” said Croft, who sat alongside the Duchess of Cambridge as she and husband Prince William attended Team GB’s official launch party, dubbed Our Greatest Time Rises, at the Royal Albert Hall.
“He is going to be extremely motivated to do well in his own country.
“The crowd will definitely be pro-Murray. He will have massive support, as he always does when he plays at Wimbledon. The pressure will be enormous but it will also be exciting.
“I think he is going to be better prepared this time. Four years ago in Beijing he was very under-prepared and didn’t really get himself up for it. This time, I think it is going to be very different.
“I am surprised he said that because in tennis the Grand Slams are the pinnacle, with the Australian, French and US Opens and Wimbledon. The Olympics is a stand-alone category, although I think that having it in London makes it extra special.”
The London 2012 tennis tournament begins just three weeks after the culmination of Wimbledon, as 10-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal prepares to defend his Olympic crown.
Roger Federer, a 16-time Grand Slam winner, is eyeing a so-far elusive Olympic gold, alongside current world No1 Novak Djokovic.
Croft, who reached the third round of Wimbledon in 1984, believes Murray’s attitude will be key for him to emerge successful from an era replete with world-class talent – but has noticed a recent mental blip after he installed eight-time Slam winner Ivan Lendl as his coach six months ago.
“Murray’s attitude with Lendl was very different and improved and I think mostly with Andy it is about his attitude. But I think it has slipped a little in the last few weeks,” Croft added.
“He has not had a great run-in in the last few weeks, so a lot will depend on where his confidence levels are going through the French Open and then Wimbledon before gearing himself up for the Olympics.
“But he is the best player we have had for a very long time. We had Tim Henman for many years and now Andy has come along and taken it to a slightly higher level because he has reached three grand slam finals whereas Tim wasn’t able to but still had an amazing career.
“But he has come along in an era with some of the best players we have ever seen with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, so he is in a very tough section. I admire what he has achieved already.”
© Sportsbeat 2012
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