McIlroy backs Murray to win Wimbledon

Wimbledon: US Open golf champion Rory McIlroy told British tennis star Andy Murray on Tuesday he was backing him to win Wimbledon, despite his friendship with title rival Rafael Nadal.

The Northern Irishman was feted in the Centre Court royal box as he watched the women`s quarter-finals but took time to meet up with Murray on the practice courts as he prepared for his own last eight clash.

McIlroy, 22, won his first major earlier this month and was hoping to inspire 24-year-old Murray to do the same.

"He`s playing awesome. Just keep doing what you`re doing," the golf star said as he visited the practice courts with US tennis legend John McEnroe.

"I`m a big tennis fan. I grew up watching Tim Henman at Wimbledon and cheering him on every summer. And now that`s passed over to Andy. We`re all behind him and hopefully he can win his first Grand Slam."

McIlroy has forged a friendship with Spanish Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal, the world number one, as well as Murray, but said if it came down to it he wanted the Scot to win this year.

"I`d love to see Andy get his first slam. I felt myself once you get that first one out of the way, it`s a lot easier to go on and win more."

Murray has been in three major finals but has yet to win his first Grand Slam.

The world number four said he took inspiration from McIlroy`s turnaround, the Northern Irishman having blown a US Masters lead to hold out for victory in the US Open.

"It`s the way you come back from it. I`ve had a fair few upsets in major competitions and it makes a difference when someone comes back like that," he said.

Murray said that his family were golf crazy and he used to play a lot before it gave him back problems.

McEnroe said he plays rarely as it irks his famous temper.

"My frustration level`s fairly high. I`ve been known to run out of clubs before the round`s over," he said.

McIlroy said he did have a tennis court at his house but recently turned it into a five-a-side football pitch.

Bureau Report