Having sacrificed so much to make an impressive comeback to the ATP Tour, Andy Murray is prepared to do what it takes to stay there as long as possible.
The former World No. 1 has confirmed he plans to skip this year’s clay-court season, including Roland Garros, to give himself the best possible chance to perform well in 2022.
Speaking as he prepares to compete in the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, Murray cited previous experience as his reasoning for missing the clay this year.
“The year I lost to Felix [Auger-Aliassime] at the US Open [in 2020] – I never really recovered from that match, and the clay made the issue worse,” Murray said in his pre-tournament press conference. “Then last year I had some issues at the beginning of the year around Miami and again, the clay didn’t help either. I’ve spoken to my team about that and this year, while I’m feeling good and healthy, I don’t really want to take that risk.”
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Murray still wants to compete on the clay again, but the two-time Wimbledon champion is particularly keen on getting the best preparation possible for the grass season this year. “It’s not that I wouldn’t potentially play on clay in the future,” Murray said. “It’s just that last year I was really close to not playing the grass season and thankfully I started to feel better right before Wimbledon. I will still try to compete a little during that period, I won’t do nothing, but that’s my plan just now.
“It gives me an opportunity to rest, recover, work on my fitness and not take any risks.”
Meanwhile a familiar face will be helping Murray out from his player’s box in Rotterdam as he faces a tough first-round clash against newly crowned Montpellier champion Alexander Bublik.
Long-time friend Daniel Vallverdu, current coach of three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, has joined Murray’s team on a short-term basis, rekindling a partnership that previously ran from 2010 to 2014 and brought Murray two of his three Grand Slam titles.
“Stan has been rehabbing for quite a long time and is hopefully coming back to the Tour in the near future, but he agreed for Dani to come and help me for a few weeks,” said Murray. “In the short term I will probably have people around that I’m familiar with. That’s quite important for me and obviously Dani and I have been close friends since we were 15 years old. Now he has quite a lot of experience on tour working with many different players, so I think for the short-term it’s a really good option and solution for me.”
Murray also expressed solidarity with Juan Martin del Potro after the Argentine announced he may be about to retire due to a persistent knee injury. Murray himself nearly called it quits in 2019 due to a career-threatening hip injury, and the Scot could only empathise with Del Potro’s situation.
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“It’s obviously very sad because he’s had many issues throughout his career, physical problems, and you hope that things are going to get better,” said Murray.
“A lot of the tough times and everything that you go through are not on camera. I know having been in that position myself, you’re feel like you’re suffering a lot of the time alone. That’s the first time he’s spoken publicly for quite a while and I’m sure he probably feels better now for it because of the amount of messages of love and support.
“He deserves to have a good send-off. I don’t know if it was definitive, but a little bit like myself, he’s probably very unsure how his knee is going to react after the amount of time he’s been out. I feel for him. I know it’s an incredibly difficult situation, but I hope he manages to finish on a positive note with all his fans behind him and a great atmosphere, and that he’s as pain-free as can be.”