Monday, April 22, 2024

Andy Murray: I’m enjoying my tennis better these days ahead of potential Australian Open meeting vs Novak Djokovic -Dlight News

Andy Murray says he is “enjoying tennis better”, as he spoke through the mental side of the sport and beginning his Australian Open campaign.

The end of 2023 didn’t go according to plan for the former World No 1. Murray lost six of his final nine matches of the season, culminating in a frustrating defeat against Alex de Minaur at the end of October in Paris, where the Australian saved a match point.

Fast forward two-and-a-half months and the 36-year-old is feeling revitalised ahead of his 16th Australian Open appearance.

“I feel like I’m enjoying [tennis] better,” Murray said in his pre-tournament press conference on Friday.

“I think part of that is the mental side of it. Tennis is a difficult game in that respect. When you’re struggling, you’re out there on your own, it can be difficult at times. Part of it is that.

“The way you’re playing, when you know you’re capable of doing more than what you are, if you’re not happy with the way you’re hitting forehands and backhands and serving and those sorts of things, there’s the technical aspect as well.

“Fixing some of those problems has helped me feel better on the court. Definitely some focus on the mental side, re-framing the way you look at things definitely helps.”

Andy Murray of Great Britain plays a shot in his match against Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria during the Brisbane International tennis tournament in Brisbane, Australia, Monday, Jan. 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)
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Murray spoke of ‘enjoying tennis better’ at a pre-tournament Australian Open press conference

Murray, currently No 44 in the ATP Rankings, split with coach Ivan Lendl in November. Working with Mark Hilton and Jonny O’Mara, he began his season in Brisbane, where he suffered an opening-round defeat to eventual champion Grigor Dimitrov.

Murray arrives in Melbourne holding fond memories at the hard-court major, having advanced to the final five times (2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016), only to lose on each occasion. Last year, he overcame Matteo Berrettini and Thanasi Kokkinakis in five-set thrillers en route to the third round.

The 46-time tour-level titlist starts this year’s Australian Open campaign against Tomas Martin Etcheverry, with Novak Djokovic a potential third-round opponent. Murray played Argentina’s Etcheverry twice last season, with both matches tight three-setters. Split at 1-1 in their ATP Head2Head series, the three-time major winner is expecting another physical battle.

“Hopefully that’s not the case in a couple of days.” said Murray.

“I made most of my matches quite physical last year, I know that last year when I wasn’t serving well, you end up getting into lots more long rallies and everything.

“Because of the way I return, I put quite a lot of returns back in play, you can end up getting into lots of long points when that’s the case. Matches will go on.”

Murray: Restricting late-night finishes a positive, obvious step

Murray added the decision by the ATP and WTA to restrict the number of evening matches at their tournaments this year was a “positive” change, and that both players and fans would welcome fewer late-night finishes.

The men’s and women’s tours jointly announced on Tuesday a one-year trial that will limit the number of evening matches played on a court to two each day, with a recommended start time of 6.30 pm.

The changes do not affect the four Grand Slam events, which are governed separately, though this year’s Australian Open has already tweaked its scheduling to help avoid late finishes.

Murray, who described his 4.05 am. finish in a contest with Thanasi Kokkinakis at Melbourne Park last year as a “farce”, was unsure if the other Grand Slams were discussing similar measures but said the ATP and WTA approach made sense.

“It’s a very obvious thing that needs to change,” the Briton said.

Andy Murray of Great Britain reacts after winning the first set in his match against Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria during the Brisbane International tennis tournament in Brisbane, Australia, Monday, Jan. 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)

“I haven’t heard anyone really disagree with that. So it’s positive there’s going to be some changes made. It’ll be good for everyone.

“I would think about it from a player’s perspective. It’ll definitely help with recovery for the following day’s matches and things like that.

“I certainly think for the fans and the tournament, just probably looks a wee bit more professional if you’re not finishing at three or four in the morning.

“This is a good step. I think the players will be happy with it. Hopefully it works well.”

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