Andy Murray sees ‘an exciting few years’ ahead for men’s tennis

Ahead of his return to the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, Andy Murray takes part in a wide-ranging e-mail conversation with Paul Oberjuerge
Andy Murray of Great Britain in action during his round-robin singles match against Roger Federer of Switzerland at the ATP World Tour Finals on November 13, 2014 in London, England. Justin Setterfield / Getty Images
Andy Murray of Great Britain in action during his round-robin singles match against Roger Federer of Switzerland at the ATP World Tour Finals on November 13, 2014 in London, England. Justin Setterfield / Getty Images

Andy Murray will make his fourth appearance at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi from Thursday to Saturday. Britain’s No 1 recently took part in a wide-ranging question-and-answer email exchange with Paul Oberjuerge.

Q: Andy, you started the season No 4, fell to 12, then had several fine results, including three championships, and you finished the season No 6. Can you identify a week, a day, a game when you felt things change?

A: I had to work very hard after my surgery, and I think I may have underestimated how tough the recovery process would be. I had a tough first half of the year and then I began to play some decent tennis at the US Open, and I think, from there, my season started to change and things began to improve. I went to China with an open mind, and thankfully some of my best tennis returned. If I had to choose a specific point that things changed for me, though, it would probably be the Shenzhen final, when I saved the match points against Tommy Robredo. I didn’t feel like I was at 100 per cent until after Wimbledon. Unfortunately, when you take time out, the tour doesn’t wait for you, so I almost felt like I was playing catch-up with some of the guys who were playing some very good tennis.

Q: The players the media have been calling the Big Four had two grand slam titles in 2014, with Marin Cilic and Stan Wawrinka breaking through. Does that create a new state of affairs among the top players in the world and, if so, what might explain it?

A: I’m not sure. The tour has become incredibly competitive over the last 12 months. There have been a lot of upsets, and that always gives the younger and lower-ranked players confidence that maybe they can start challenging for titles. A lot of guys are going into tournaments genuinely believing they can win them now.

Q: If you were to forecast a Big Four five years from now, who might be in it?

A: That’s a very tough question. Over the last few seasons you have guys like Kei Nishikori, Grigor Dimitrov, Marin and Milos Raonic who have all been raising their level and winning more tournaments. So, who knows? It will hopefully make for an exciting few years.

Q: Roger Federer had perhaps the best 2014 season, at age 33. Is there anything other players can learn from his high level of play into his middle 30s?

A: The thing with Roger is he doesn’t give up. He had a very tough season last year, and it would have been easy for him to look at things and think, ‘OK, I’ve had a great time, maybe it’s time to call it a day’, but he didn’t. He went away with his team and addressed the issues and came back stronger than ever. No matter how old you are or successful you have been, there is always more to learn and always things you can work on to improve yourself, and I think Roger has shown that this year.

Q: In early 2009, you beat Federer and Rafael Nadal on consecutive days to win the first Mubadala World Tennis Championship. What did it mean to you back then, to defeat those two back to back? Do you have a favourite moment from either match?

A: Yeah, it was great. Roger, Rafa and I have had some great matches over the years, and I remember both of those matches being very tight, so it was great to be able to win through. The great thing about Mubadala is that, even though it’s an exhibition, everyone wants to win it and there is a real competitiveness to it, which means it sets you up perfectly for the season.

Q: Is New Year’s Eve a big event for you? How do you tend to spend it and what changes when you have to be on court the next day?

A: I’ll always try and celebrate it with my team. I’m normally already in Abu Dhabi each year by late December, so we all come together. We don’t go wild, but we always think it’s important to celebrate it as a team; we usually head to bed pretty soon after midnight so that we can be productive as possible the next day.

Q: Could you describe your relationship with your coach, Amelie Mauresmo, and identify some areas where she has been a help to you?

A: Amelie is great. We had discussed working together before, and then during the French Open we met up and discussed the possibilities of actually going for it and I liked what she was offering, so it was a simple decision to work with her. We understand each other very well, which is great, and it also means I can talk to her about things in my game that I feel could need some work and we can then work on it as a team to try and improve.

Q: You have won Wimbledon, the US Open and an Olympic gold medal. Where would being ranked No 1 fit, in comparison to those achievements? Is No 1 a primary goal?

A: It’s no secret that grand slams have always meant a lot to me; the aim for me will always be to be playing my best tennis at the slams. Anything else around that is a bonus. You need to perform consistently at the major tournaments, which is something I always strive to do, so if I can do that, then I will be very happy.

Q: You had an intense final few months of the season. Did you then give yourself some time to relax and unwind? Do you have a particular method of switching off for a bit?

A: After the World Tour Finals, I took a week off from tennis. I had played a lot of tournaments back to back, which is something I haven’t done for a long time. I don’t get to spend much time at home, so for me I can’t think of anywhere I would rather have a holiday than at home with my fiancee [Kim Sears] and my dogs Maggie and Rusty. We like to go for long walks and out for some nice meals at our favourite restaurants when we can.

Q: We understand you are engaged to be married. Has a date or location been set?

A: Nothing’s set in stone yet, but we have a few ideas floating around for next year. We are both pretty private, so you won’t be reading too much about it.

poberjuerge@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter at @SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 27, 2014 04:00 AM

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