DCSIMG

Andy Murray controlling the pressure valves

Andy Murray. Picture: AP

Andy Murray. Picture: AP

  • by EVE FODENS
 

OLYMPIC gold medal? Check. Win a major? Check. Finally win Wimbledon? Check.

Andy Murray has a new “To Do” list. Instead of trying to win majors, he’s now defending them. Murray approaches the US Open with a new perspective after winning it for the first time last year.

“It’s a new experience, so I don’t know how I’m going to respond,” he said ahead of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. “You know, I’m staying in the same hotel as last year, and I’ll try and stick to a similar sort of schedule and try and get comfortable there as soon as I arrive in New York. I’m looking forward to it.

“I get excited always for the Grand Slams, and there’s some pressures that you can deal with well and some you don’t. Hopefully, this will be one that I deal with well. I’ve always enjoyed playing in New York. I hope I’ve got the energy there and the desire to have a good tournament.”

After becoming the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936, Murray took nearly a week off. He vacationed in the Bahamas before resuming his training in Miami. He returned to tournament play last week in Montreal, where he lost in the third round.

“In the time after Wimbledon, those few days were tough,” he said. “It was really busy. It was very demanding. I wasn’t particularly stressed out by it because I just won Wimbledon, so I wasn’t really that bothered by all of it. Like I say, once I actually got away from it and stuff, it was just nice to be able to really sort of relax and not have to worry about anything else. I’m just glad that kind of I’m back on the tour now and doing what I like to do and that’s play tennis.”

Murray won Western & Southern Open in 2008 and 2011. He lost in the round of 16 last year and wouldn’t speculate on his chances this year. “I don’t really know,” he said. “I mean, sometimes I’ve played really well here and sometimes I haven’t. 
I need to try and get some matches in because that would help for the US Open.”

“Last year I didn’t play particularly well in the two warm-up tournaments. I only played one match in Canada and two matches here and I won the US Open. So I’m not putting loads of pressure on myself this week.”

Former US Open champion Samantha Stosur continued her build-up to the season’s final grand slam with a convincing 6-1 7-5 win over Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova in first-round action in Cincinnati.

The Australian 11th seed is among a host of former-grand slam winners making an appearance on the hardcourts this week, the joint-event likely to be the final tune-up for the top players from both the WTA and ATP ahead of the US Open later this month.

American world No 1 Serena Williams, fresh off her win in Toronto, headlines a star-studded women’s field that will feature the top-20 ranked players.

The men’s side of the draw is no less impressive with world No 1 Novak Djokovic, Murray, Rafa Nadal, also a winner in Canada on Sunday, and Roger Federer taking centre stage.

The opening day of play on Monday saw plenty of upsets on the men’s side with 13th-seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, No 14 Fabio Fognini of Italy and 16th seed Jerzey Janowicz of Poland all falling at the first hurdle.

Almagro was stopped 7-6 (3) 6-4 by Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov while Czech Radek Stepanek dumped Fognini 6-2 6-4 and wildcard American James Blake eliminated Janowicz 6-1 7-5.

In contrast, all went according to script in women’s action with ninth seeded German Angelique Kerber battling past Italian qualifier Karin Knapp 6-7(6) 6-0 6-1, while 12th seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy also needed three sets to see off American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-4 5-7 6-3.

Russian 16th seed Maria Kirilenko was a 4-6 7-6 (4) 7-6 (4) winner over Georgian Anna Tatishvili, while unseeded Venus Williams swept past Slovakia’s Jana Cepelova 6-4 6-1 to the 
approval of the home crowd.

Swiss Martina Hingis continued her return to competition by teaming up with Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova for a 4-6 6-4 10-5 first-round doubles win over Spain’s Anabel Medina Garrigues and Italian Flavia Pennetta.

 

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