By Pritha Sarkar
LONDON (Reuters) - Andy Murray needs to ditch the ‘Mr. Nice Guy' image and become more arrogant, brash and big-headed if he has aspirations of becoming Wimbledon champion, according to Goran Ivanisevic.
Expectations that this might be the year that Britain's great tennis hope ends a 76-year wait for a men's grand slam champion has been gathering momentum since 10.04 pm local time last Thursday when Murray's Wimbledon bogeyman Rafa Nadal was sensationally jettisoned from the 2012 championships.
Murray is much too polite to say it himself, but Nadal's unexpected demise should have been a cause for celebration for the Briton.
For not only had Nadal enjoyed a commanding 13-5 win-loss record against Murray, the Spaniard also shattered the British number one's Wimbledon dreams all three times they have met on the hallowed turf.
With two of those losses coming in the 2010 and 2011 semi-finals, it is little wonder the fans cramming around sweltering Court Nine during Murray's practice session on Thursday 24 hours before his semi-final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga were quick to remind him: "Come on Andy, it's now or never!"
Unsurprisingly, the man who admitted that "subconsciously I'm probably extremely stressed out right now" chose to ignore the cries and carried on with his drill of fine-tuning his serves, overheads and volleys under the watchful eye of coach Ivan Lendl.
Ivanisevic believes there is more than a little bit of the ‘crazy Goran' in Murray as he gives rivals - especially Novak Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer - way too much respect.
It is the reason why on the three occasions Murray has made it to a major final - 2008 U.S. Open and 2010/2011 Australian Opens - he has failed to win a set.
"I needed to be more arrogant on court. I had too much respect for everybody. For (Boris) Becker, for (Andre) Agassi, for (Pete) Sampras, for (Jim) Courier. I even had respect for the guy ranked 100," Ivanisevic, who overcame the heartache of losing three finals before finally conquering Mount Wimbledon in 2001, told Reuters in an interview.
"That's why I like Djokovic. He doesn't respect anybody on the court. He's great. Even when he was young, he thought he was going to number one one day, and he became number one. Whereas I was always happy being number two behind Sampras... maybe if I thought I could be number one, I wouldn't have lost so many matches," Ivanisevic added.
"I've seen many of my matches against Sampras and 60 percent of those were a gift. I gave him those matches and they were big matches, semis, finals. I was good in the semi-finals. I had bad record in the finals.
"It is the same for Murray. In a final and semis Murray has to take chances because against these guys, he can't wait for them to miss as they are never going to miss. He has to make them miss and he has to put the pressure on them."
On Wednesday, after reaching the All England Club semis for a fourth successive year, Murray bleated: "I'd be disappointed if I lost before the final."
Murray's observation set off alarm bells in Ivanisevic, especially since if the British fourth seed gets to the final, he will have to face Djokovic or Federer.
"I played much better tennis in the semi-finals because I thought it was bad to lose in the semis but not so bad to lose in the final, which is very stupid thinking," said the popular Croatian.
"I would think 'ok, I was in the final, not bad' but nobody gives a shit for the runner-up. I have three plates from Wimbledon, they are beautiful plates nobody cares and nobody remembers. And it's unbelievable how many people remember 2001.
"I should have been more aggressive to win the titles but was too polite. I was too mixed up."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)