Andy Murray: 'I hope to challenge for Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros titles'
Tennis - The World No. 1 has high expectations for the clay-court season
Andy Murray struggled a little bit today to beat Gilles Muller. The big-server served to win the first set on 5-4, but he lost it 7-5 and in the second set he was again up a break but lost it again 7-5. 'I definitely played better as the match went on', Murray recognized. 'Obviously first service game was not ideal. But, you know, when you are coming back from not really serving for a few weeks, it's I think normal. Maybe technique changed a little bit. You get into the match, and it's tricky. So I served a little bit better as the match went on, which was good. But I was happy with how I hit the ball. I hit the ball clean from the back. I was dictating a lot of points once I got into the rallies. It was just sometimes the first couple of shots, like, the serve or the return, could have been a little bit better. But it was okay for a first match in a while.'
Asked if he played completely pain-free, Murray replied: 'My elbow's always a bit sore - always. That's nothing to do with this week. The last two years, always when I serve, it's just a little bit sore. But it was nothing out of the ordinary today. Like I said, I did serve a little bit better as the match went on. I'm sure that that side of my game will get better with each match that I play, the more confidence that I get in the serve. But, the rest of my game, which is the things I've been able to do and practice a lot the last couple of weeks, were good. If the serve keeps getting better, then I'll do much better in my matches.'
Q. What is it like when you're away from the tour for five weeks? Is it frustrating? A relief? A good rest? Is it a combination of all those sort of things?
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, it depends a little bit on how you've been playing or how you're feeling. I mean, sometimes obviously having a break, if you're feeling tired, you know, fatigued, it's great. Sometimes also, though, when you're winning and playing really well, you don't think so much about the fatigue side of things. You sort of want to keep going. You don't want to stop obviously when you're doing well. But yeah, I mean, obviously missing Miami was a shame for me because I love that tournament. I spend so much time there that, you know, it's one of my favorite ones during the year. I played well there in the past. So that was tough. But I did probably need it. I needed a little bit of a break. I enjoyed it. Like I spent more time at home with my family. I got slightly longer to prepare on the clay maybe than I would have done.
Q. You said the break gave you time to spend with your family. How important is that for you in terms of spending time with them, getting some time away from the court?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, I think everyone enjoys spending time with their family. It's important to do that as much as possible. Sometimes it's tricky for the tennis players because of how much we travel, and the schedule can be difficult. Yeah, it's been nice this year. I got to spend lots of time with my family, which I've enjoyed. Hope they have as well (smiling). Any time I get the chance to do that is great.
Q. Reaching the final in Paris last year, does it change your mindset early on in this clay season, thinking, I want to reach the last step? Does it change anything or...
ANDY MURRAY: Well, I definitely come to the clay court season this year - and it was the same last year, as well - with much higher expectations than I had done in the past. For me personally, this week, sort of my short-term expectations aren't extremely high, but I'm expecting by Madrid, Rome and the French Open to be feeling good hopefully challenging for those titles. I don't see why not. I've improved most years on the clay. I learnt a lot the last couple years. I won obviously some of the big tournaments, in Madrid and Rome. Got close in Paris, as well, so...
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