Tennis is primarily an individual sport and Andy Murray, recognising the need to get things back on track after a disappointing time following his final loss at the Australian Open, is simply focusing on himself for the time being.
Murray was ranked no.2 in the world prior to last year’s US Open but is now down to a precarious no.4 made slightly safer by the two players right behind him, Juan Martin Del Potro and Nikolay Davydenko are nursing long-term wrist injuries. And since losing to Roger Federer, the Scot has experienced sub-standard loses in Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami.
In his own view however he primarily believes he has allowed himself to get distracted by issues off the court and they in turn affected his appetite to play. Now after a period of reassessment following his failure to last beyond his first match in the defence of the Sony Ericsson Open title he won last year, Murray’s mind at least is moving in the right manner again.
“I'm feeling a lot better than I did but I need to sort things out myself,” comes the insistence from Murray as he prepares to play his third Masters 1000 series event of the season at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters after tournament director Zeljko Franulovic gratefully handed him a late wild card.
“I took four or five days off after Miami, stayed there, practiced for a few days over there and I feel a lot better. I can't say 100% that I'm going to be great this week but I feel fine. I have practiced really well, a lot better than I have done the last month or so, and I have just got to play well in the matches, fight hard and compete. That's all I can do.”
Issues over Britain’s Davis Cup team, including some damning comments from former captain John Lloyd who previously stated he perfectly understood why Murray wouldn’t want to play in the depths of Euro African Zone Group Two against Lithuania, have not helped Murray. Neither, it appears, has the aftermath of his relationship break-up with long term girl friend Kim Sears although the couple are reportedly on convivial terms again.
“It's been a combination of a lot of things,” admitted Murray. “There was stuff that was going on off the court, and within tennis. A lot of stuff with the Davis Cup. I've said a few things about the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) and what is going on, and it's been constant. There's so much going on around tennis at the moment.
"It's not just that but a lot of things that can be mentally draining and you can be subconsciously annoyed about or upset about and you need to make sure that you've got a clear head.
“There's a lot of stuff that goes on, with the tennis and the matches and obviously things off the court can affect you. It happened to me a few times in juniors, when you're just not enjoying yourself on court and it's kind of hard to put your finger on it.”
Murray has both regular coach Miles Maclagan and occasional advisor Alex Corretja – a situation many believe is potentially confusing for the 22 year-old, and he has semi-final points to defend after losing to eventual champion Rafael Nadal a year ago. “The guys that I work with, we know each other really well now and we spend a lot of time together,” he insisted.
“They want me to win every tournament I play but it's not always about results. It's about being yourself on court, fighting hard, being in a good frame of mind and enjoying yourself, and for some reason that month in Indian Wells and Miami was not how I play on court, not really how I compete. I wasn't myself at all. It's not their fault.”
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