Murray: 'I Haven't Really Watched Tennis In The Past 12 Months'
Former World No. 1 looks ahead to Wimbledon doubles campaign
Ahead of his first-round doubles match alongside 2016 champion Pierre-Hugues Herbert at Wimbledon, Andy Murray admitted he barely watched the sport following his recovery from right hip surgery in January.
“I haven't really watched any tennis in the past 12 months. Since the operation I had in January, I literally didn't watch anything hardly at all,” Murray said. “When you're around the event and stuff, there's matches on the TV. I wouldn't sit from the first point of a match and watch a best-of-five set match because it can be four hours of the day. I'm here to do stuff. I want to be with my family and things. I'll watch bits and pieces of it.”
But Murray's lack of studying from the sidelines did not harm the former World No. 1 on his return to action. In his first appearance since his second right hip surgery on 28 January, Murray clinched the Fever-Tree Championships crown with Feliciano Lopez.
Despite that success in his comeback event, Murray's expectations have not changed. The 32-year-old, who fell in the first round to eventual champions Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in Eastbourne (w/Melo), is happy just to be back on the court; a place where his competitive instincts are as strong as ever.
“[My expectations] haven't changed really. I think that's probably one of the things that I will try to make sure doesn't change over the next few years. I think a lot of that stuff comes out from other people. I'm just happy to be playing tennis again,” Murray said. “I would like to do well when I get on the court. I play to win. I'm really competitive.
"But… I didn't know four or five weeks ago if I'd even be playing on the grass. Shouldn't be expecting too much. But once I step on the court, I'll be out there trying to win every match I play.”
When the doubles draw was made at The All England Club, British fans were keenly waiting to see where Andy and brother Jamie Murray would land. The siblings could meet in the third round, with Andy and Herbert taking on Marius Copil and Ugo Humbert in their opening match.
“Even if [we] were separated on opposite ends of the draw, people would be talking about us playing in the final. We have to win matches first,” Murray said. “If we get through our first round, we're due to face the sixth seeds in the second round. If we play each other, it would be difficult in some respects. You're competing against your brother [at the] biggest tennis event in the world.
“At the same time I'd rather be on the same side of the net with him. But it's cool if we did get the opportunity, that we'd be doing it on the biggest stage in our sport, as well, which would be nice. We'll see if we get there.”
Jamie and his partner, Neal Skupski, face a tough opener against Turkish Airlines Open Antalya finalists Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek. With Andy and Herbert facing a potential meeting against sixth seeds Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor in the second round, there are no guarantees that a Murray showdown will take place on the grass of The All England Club.
But if they do clash, it will be a special moment for their family. After all, the Murray brothers, born less than two years apart, were once boys growing up in Scotland striving to make their dreams come true.
“Just growing up with a brother literally 15 months apart, we did all sports together, all games together from when we were kids. I guess tennis-wise, in central Scotland, there's not lots of top tennis players [where] we were growing up. So having Jamie to play against and compete against up until we were 14, 15, was obviously a big help,” Murray said.
“But I just think the biggest thing for us as kind of athletes is that we didn't just play tennis. We did everything together, whether that was golf, gymnastics, squash, table tennis, swimming. We did all sports with each other at a young age and enjoyed doing it.”
Another unique aspect to Murray's return on the doubles court is the change in preparation ahead of events, with new practice drills focussed on improving his doubles game.
"I like doing all the doubles drilling... You have to be really explosive over a couple of steps to make sure you get up to the net quick enough. The reactions are really quick and sharp. I find some of the sessions pretty tiring. The points play not so much,” Murray said. “It's been good. It's been fun for me. Obviously different to what I've been used to. I've liked it. It's been good fun.”
When Murray decided that he would take part in the doubles draw at SW19, the list of players offering their services would have been filled with talent. But the Brit has found an experienced partner in Herbert, who has triumphed at each of the four major tournaments. The reigning Australian Open champion (w/Mahut), owns a 10-3 record in Wimbledon doubles encounters and has lifted one Grand Slam trophy in four of the past five years.
“He's very laid back, [a] relaxed guy. Good person. Always very polite. He's always been really, really friendly, not just this week, but before,” Murray said. “He plays a game that I would say is fairly suited to quick courts. Not that the courts here are not particularly fast just now. Hopefully they'll speed up a bit as the event goes on. He plays serve-volley tennis, returns well. He's a good athlete. Hopefully we can have a good run together.”