Murray wants ‘more matches’ as he strives to improve

Murray ‘unlikely’ to play Eastbourne but keen to get ‘on the court with top players’ to regain competitive edge as he battles back from recent groin injury

Last Updated: 18/06/21 11:53am

Andy Murray is unlikely to play at Eastbourne next week as he continues his return to top level tennis (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Andy Murray is unlikely to play at Eastbourne next week as he continues his return to top level tennis (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Andy Murray insists the nature of his defeat to Matteo Berrettini is only likely to make him more determined to overcome his injury nightmare and be competitive against the best in the game.

The former world No 1 and three-time Grand Slam champion suffered a straight sets defeat to the Italian at the cinch Championships on Thursday, ending his first tournament action since March.

Murray, who beat Benoit Paire earlier in the week, has been battling a niggling groin injury, the latest in a host of setbacks that have plagued him over the last three years, and there was evidence of top level rustiness against big-hitting Berrettini who ran out a 6-3 6-3 winner to set up a quarter-final date with Dan Evans.

Murray, who underwent hip resurfacing surgery in 2019, is desperate not to just make up the numbers despite injuries taking their toll and the 34-year-old believes the feeling after his defeat to the world No 9 can only help.

“My immediate feeling and the thing when I get into the locker room after a match like that is I was telling my team ‘these are the things I want to improve’,” he said after his second round defeat.

“These are the things that will need to get better, if I want to win those matches and be more competitive.

“I’m not sitting in the locker room after a match and going, ‘Oh that was a shame that doesn’t really matter, and, I’m just happy being out there’.”

“I’m not happy losing 3 and 3 to Berrettini I want to be doing better than that, for sure.”

Andy Murray

“My tennis (against Berrettini) was not very good, that’s the thing that I’ll need to improve the most rather than the actual movement around the court.

“I just didn’t play that well. Against the top players you’re not going to get loads of opportunities on the grass, especially when someone is serving like that, you need to be right on it. I wasn’t today.”

Murray was playing just his third ATP tournament of the year and seventh of the last two years, but he will head to Wimbledon with just another week of practice after saying he was unlikely to play at the Eastbourne tournament next week.

The Scot has played in four of the last 14 Grand Slam tournaments and hasn’t played at Wimbledon since his run to the quarter-final in 2017 – a run that ended with him in agony against Sam Querrey.

Murray was beaten in straight sets by Matteo Berrettini (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Murray was beaten in straight sets by Matteo Berrettini (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

He has taken up a wild card for this year’s Championships, which will also have a crowd in attendance, and the two-time Wimbledon champion admits there is difficulty in striking a balance between practice and playing at the highest level while managing an injury.

“I do feel like I genuinely have been hitting the ball well in practice, but then like today when you’re under a bit more pressure and you’re having to make very split-second decisions when you’re on the court, it’s difficult to prepare for that.

“You just need to be on the court with the top players, and that’s what I’ll try and do the next week, ten days, get out there and play with them as much as possible. But then with the mindset or the thought that I need to manage the groin a little bit, as well. It’s a bit tricky.

“My application and desire to improve and work on things off the back of matches and learning like from today is still there and let’s see what happens if I get the opportunity to play more matches and get the chance to play him potentially in a few weeks’ time.”

Andy Murray

“Trust me, it’s not easy, not easy going out there and playing and competing when you have not played loads in the last sort of three years.

“It’s my second grass court match since 2018. I played two practice sets in the build-up to the tournament, and I’m playing a guy who is serving – it felt like a majority of serves in the 140 miles an hour on the first serve.

“It’s tough, I need matches, I need to practice at this level. I’ll keep trying.”

British tennis on the up?

For the first time in the tournament’s history there are three British men through to the quarter-finals with Dan Evans and Cam Norrie – the British No 1 & 2 – joined in the last eight by teenager Jack Draper.

British No 1 Dan Evans faces Berrettini next (PA)
British No 1 Dan Evans faces Berrettini next (PA)

Evans will face Murray’s conqueror Berrettini in Friday’s quarter-final match-up and Murray believes the world No 25 has the game to impress during the fleeting grass court season.

“Dan’s obviously been doing exceptionally well for quite a long period now, he did very well last year as well and the year before and he has a game that suits the grass.

“Cam has had a fantastic year so far, he’s getting better all of the time. I have practiced with him quite a lot and spent a bit of time with him over the last few years, and, you know, he works exceptionally hard.

“He’s a very, very fit guy, has a really good attitude. I’m happy for him, how well he’s doing.”

cinch Championships: Quarter-Finals

Matteo Berrettini (1) vs Dan Evans (6)
Alex De Minaur (4) vs Marin Cilic
Cameron Norrie vs Jack Draper
Frances Tiafoe vs Dennis Shapovalov (2)

Norrie will face Draper, who is playing in just his second ATP Tour level event and has already beat Jannick Sinner and Alexander Bublik – players inside the world’s top 40. Their match-up means the home fans are assured of at least one semi-finalist and Murray believes the run is crucial to Draper’s development.

“Jack’s one of probably the best young players in the country, and I have spent quite a lot of time practicing with him and training with him.

“He’s got a big game, big lefty serve, moves well for his height, he’s going to do really well.

Jack Draper had reached the quarter-finals in just his second ATP Tour level tournament (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
Jack Draper had reached the quarter-finals in just his second ATP Tour level tournament (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

“He’s had obviously a couple good wins here and it will be interesting to see him and Cam, but, yeah, it’s great he’s able to get these matches now at this level.

“It has been difficult with the pandemic to obviously move your ranking up, and there has not been as many tournaments, so when he has been playing, he’s been playing at slightly lower level.

“Hopefully with the points he’s getting this week will give him the opportunity through to the end of the year to play in more challengers and compete at a higher level, which is really important at his age.”

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Source : Sky Sports