LITERATURE-LOVING doctors’ son Andrey Golubev will try to ensure Andy Murray’s stay at the French Open is a short and unhappy one.
The Wimbledon champion will begin his campaign on Tuesday against world number 53 Golubev, a Russian native who has represented Kazakhstan since 2008.
That was also the year of their first meeting in the St Petersburg final, which Murray won 6-1 6-1.
They played again at the Hopman Cup in Australia in 2010 and the outcome was much the same, this time Murray dropping just four games.
“I can say that it was almost two easy matches for him,” said Golubev. “But it was a long time ago and he was playing great in that time.
“Every match is different. Even if you play one month ago and then you have to play the next week.
“We’ve never met on clay. It’s a good challenge for me. Of course it’s not easy to play top guys on any surface.
“When we go on court, everyone has 50-50. Then he has to show he is better than me, and of course I will try my best.”
Despite the one-sided nature of their previous matches, Golubev is potentially a dangerous opponent for Murray.
The 26-year-old has a flashy, attacking game and pulled off probably the biggest win of his career in April when he defeated Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka in Davis Cup.
He said: “It gives me big confidence. But when you play top guys, their standard is very high even if they play not so good.
“You have to be almost perfect with your tactics and your game style and believe in yourself.
“I have to play my tennis. Every match you can be different with the tactics, with the small things, but basically I will attack for sure. I’m not going to stay behind the baseline five metres just waiting for his mistakes. We will see if I can do this well.”
Murray will play his first match at Roland Garros for two years after missing last year’s tournament to rest his ailing back.
It has been not a great season for the Scot so far but his performance against Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals of Rome earlier this month fuelled optimism he could have a decent run in Paris.
Golubev said: “I watched at home his match against Nadal in Rome. I enjoyed it. It was a good match. I see him playing better now after the surgery. I can understand it’s difficult to get back to the top level.”
Golubev is an affable character who described his outlook as “360 degree” rather than being consumed by tennis.
He is looking to begin a university degree and recently finished reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment.
Dostoyevsky has an increasing presence in locker rooms around the tour, with Janko Tipsarevic, Sergiy Stakhovsky, Mikhail Youzhny and Ernests Gulbis all fans.
Not that Golubev will be following Tipsarevic’s example by having a Dostoyevsky quote tattooed on his arm.
“I would not do that because I don’t like tattoos,” he said.
Both of Golubev’s parents are doctors but he was never pressured into following in their footsteps.
“They just tried to keep me healthy, especially my mother,” he said. “She’s always, ‘You have to be careful, doing this, doing that’. They always say what is going to be the worst in any situation.
“Because they’re doctors they know every kind of situation. I say, ‘Mum, if everyone thinks like that, they’ll just stay at home because they’re scared about everything’.”
Golubev is good friends with Uzbek Denis Istomin, who gave Murray a testing time at the US Open last year, as well as the other players from former Soviet countries.
Ukrainians Stakhovsky and Alexandr Dolgopolov have been vocal in their support for their homeland during the current troubles involving Russia but Golubev insisted that does not affect relations in the locker room.
“We are sportsmen,” he said. “Of course we are discussing about that and we’re telling our opinions but it stays there. We can speak even for 100 hours, we can change nothing.”