Murray still computing magnitude of US Open win
He MAY look like the world No 3 preparing for the penultimate Masters event of the season, but Andy Murray is not quite himself. It is a little over four weeks since he won the US Open and yet it still does not seem to have sunk in yet. He is a Grand Slam champion. At last.
The Scot will begin the defence of his Shanghai Masters title today against German world No 25 Florian Mayer (around 11am BST). They have only met once before and Murray won that match on clay last year in Rome, 1-6, 6-1, 6-1.
The German reached the semi-finals in Beijing last week, but, once he got there, he was thrashed 6-1, 6-4 by Novak Djokovic. In theory, Mayer could be in for the same sort of treatment today, but until Murray finally gets to grips with his new status – Britain’s first major champion in 76 years, never let it be forgotten – some of his performances in the coming weeks may be a little less than perfect.
“I still don’t know, even now, whether it’s quite sunk in yet,” he said. “I didn’t really know what to say about it when I was being asked questions about it.
“When I got back from New York, for three or four days I just didn’t really leave the house that much, apart from going out to walk the dogs a couple of times a day. I just spent a lot of time in the house, just chilling.
“But there were some evenings when my girlfriend and I would just sit there and neither of us could quite process the whole summer. It just all seems to have gone by really quickly. I still don’t think I’ve quite grasped everything that has happened in the past few months.
“I haven’t felt so different. It was a big weight off my back at the time. So getting on the practice court, getting in the gym and stuff, has become a bit easier.
“Sometimes when you’ve had a lot of hard losses, you question whether doing all that stuff is worth it. When you’re on the court practicing, always trying to improve, you’re not quite getting the results you want, that can be hard. The few weeks practice after the US Open were easy.”
Murray certainly eased himself back into the daily routine last week, reaching the semi-finals of the Japan Open. He played well in patches, but, after taking a couple of weeks off after his US Open success, he was always going to be a little rusty.
This week, it should be business as usual as he, Roger Federer and Djokovic battle for the title in China. And even if the situation still feels a little surreal for the Scot – the other day, he was given a pair of “Angry Bird” costumes for his two dogs by a Chinese fan – at least Murray, with his Grand Slam trophy, feels like an equal in the elite group at the top of the rankings. He has proved his worth beyond a shadow of a doubt – and a huge relief along comes along with that.
“I felt like every single match I’ve played before [winning the Open], I was always having to prove something,” he said, “whether it was in the first round of Brisbane or the semi-finals or final of a Grand Slam.
“Now it’s not as though I’m wanting to lose my matches – I’m trying my best to win and I think I’ve played well so far – but if I were to lose, beforehand I would think it’s a huge disappointment or setback, regardless of the tournament, and I would sometimes find it hard for a few days. Now I don’t have that sense right now.
“There’ll be a bit less pressure that I’ll be putting on myself for every single match that I play. For example, when I lost at the Australian Open, straight away I would be thinking about the French Open and Wimbledon, which wasn’t necessarily the best thing for the tournaments coming up, so I’m hoping that I’ll be a bit more focused through the year and not just looking at the next Grand Slam.
“I need to try and play well in all the tournaments that I’m entered in, and hopefully that’s something that will change.”
With the ATP World Tour Finals in London just three weeks away, Murray is determined to end the year with a bang. He had to pull out of the finals last year with an injury after just one match; this year, the US Open Champion wants to live up to his new billing – and his ranking – and challenge for the trophy.
“I’m very motivated for the end of the year,” he said. “I want to try and play well. I didn’t finish last year the way I would have like. At the O2 finals, I didn’t get to finish because I was injured and I want to make sure I’m full fit for that tournament and I’m looking forward to it.”
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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