Andy Murray set a clear tone of hope yesterday after a year in which he only played four tournaments, when he said he is looking forward to competing for titles again in 2021 and that he is striving for another Olympic medal.
The 33-year-old has been working hard in the gym in recent weeks, limited by a nagging groin injury – as well as the coronavirus break – and sees no reason why he can’t be as fit and strong as ever and participate despite his metal hip in the latter stages of the tournaments.
Yesterday, Murray said, “If I’m fit, I’ll do it,” “I haven’t forgotten how to play tennis.”
“I’ve seen enough in the limited amount I’ve played in the last year – basically from Asia to Antwerp last year – and then the matches I’ve played in New York, I’ve beaten a top-10 player (Alexander Zverev) in Cincinnati, top-50 players, and then obviously at the end of last year I was still winning against guys like Stan (Wawrinka when he won Antwerp for his first title since his 2019 surgery)”
“So I know that I can perform and win big matches if I get really fit and healthy over a longer period of time. And that’s why I’m working on it now to try not to have problems next year.”
He said the Olympics were going to be “very important” to his schedule. I’m going to have to wait and see what happens (he needs a wild card to participate), but I’d love to compete again in the Olympics, it’d be massive for me to have another chance to do it. That would be one of this year’s first goals.
“Obviously I’d love to play Wimbledon again, as well as the Aussie Open, and then if I’m fit and healthy I’d be fired up to win another medal in Tokyo.”
Murray practiced yesterday for two hours with fellow Brit Dan Evans and said all the training he has done off the court points to a promising start to 2021.
I did a lot of training in the gym trying to smash all my personal best times in the gym, which was pretty exciting for me,” he said. “I’m very inspired to do so so I can go with that experience into the new year.
“The only thing I might not get to the same level is speed. But I’m hoping that by improving my strength and power, I’ll be a little faster on the court. There’s no reason I can’t get back to the level I was at before with everything else. And that probably wasn’t the case last year, really. So, I feel good.”
Murray said he wanted to take a hard look at himself after a tough first-round loss to Wawrinka at Roland-Garros in late September. And while last month he intended to play both back-to-back tournaments in Cologne, he was unfortunate to lose in the first round to Fernando Verdasco, ending early in his season.
“I’ve been out of sorts since my first match at the US Open,” Murray said.
I had this issue and it went up and down and never really got fixed. When I took time off and then started practicing again, it got better, but it got worse again as soon as I started competing again.
That’s why at the end of the Verdasco match I was pretty down, because obviously in New York I felt really good, I lasted for the five-set match against (Yoshihito) Nishioka, which was the first five-set match I played, and I felt very good about it. The next day, I just woke up and had some kind of tendonitis.
“That upset me more because I knew it wasn’t going well and I wanted to finish the season and have the opportunity to play more matches, but physically I wasn’t in good shape. That was tough.”
For the coming year, Murray said a test of his body fat percentage, which was not as good as he would have liked, was adequate to re-motivate him.
I thought to myself, sure,”I thought to myself, sure, I can get in much better shape than I am right now,”I can get in much better shape than I am right now. To get to this point, I’ve been working hard, but I can do more. I can make sure I eat better, I can make sure I’m stronger in the gym.
“I think I’ll be okay next year. I guess I can’t afford to get any cracks or be a little heavier with my age and even with the metal hip than I should be or have defects in my body that maybe I might have gotten away with when I was younger.