The last time Andy Murray competed at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, he was firmly entrenched in the top five of the FedEx ATP Rankings and fighting for titles weekly. Now World No. 121 and continuing his comeback from 2019 hip surgery, Murray is simply happy to be battling on the court.
“I’m pumped to be back competing again. Physically I feel good, which is the most important thing,” Murray said. “Obviously the next most important thing for me is to get matches and to get back to winning again on Tour.”
Murray began his season in February at an ATP Challenger Tour event in Biella, Italy. The Scot was unable to travel to Australia in January because he tested positive for COVID-19. Luckily for Murray, it has been tougher to recover mentally than physically.
“I’d say [it was] more mental to be honest than physical. It obviously affects your tennis a little bit because it came on the end of a long training block,” Murray said. “I’d trained really hard for 10 weeks and was feeling really good and then I wasn’t allowed to do anything. I wasn’t allowed out of the house… that obviously affects the physical side, but also the mental side as well.”
After his long training block, Murray was excited to compete in Australia and test his level. The 33-year-old was confident in how he felt on the court. But not being able to prove it after putting in the hard work was a letdown.
“I’ve missed quite a lot of big tournaments in recent years with injury and stuff and then that happened and I was really, really disappointed,” Murray said. “[It’s] still something that I’m probably getting over a bit from the disappointment and the mental side of things, but physically I feel good.”
Murray will begin his Rotterdam run against a familiar foe in Dutch veteran Robin Haase, whom he leads 4-1 in their ATP Head2Head series. Their first meeting, which Haase won, came in Rotterdam 13 years ago. But Murray isn’t putting much stock in that.
“It was 12 years ago when I won here and 13 years ago since I played Robin, so that to me doesn’t have any baring nowadays on the match-up or how you will perform in the tournament or anything,” Murray said. “A lot has changed since then.”
One thing that has not changed is that Murray enjoys playing at the Rotterdam Ahoy, home of this week’s ATP 500 event.
“I like it a lot here. They’ve changed the whole setup. It’s a shame that the fans aren’t here, but I think they’ve done a great job with the centre court. They’ve made a real effort to try and create an atmosphere, which is difficult just now without the fans,” Murray said. “I think considering the circumstances they’ve done a really nice job for the players and big thanks to everyone involved.”
Murray isn’t overthinking his goals for the year and what results he wants to earn. The former World No. 1 is focussing all his energy on each match and hoping that making steady progress will pay off.
“I want to try and get matches, but I need to just focus on the first one and try and get through that,” Murray said. “I’ve played Robin a few times on Tour, we know each other pretty well. We’ve had some tough matches in big tournaments and he’s a talented guy with a big game. My focus is on that and trying to take each day as it comes just now.
“When you haven’t played loads, you go into these matches and it’s not the same as it was four, five years ago when you were playing five, six matches a week and you were used to that. I haven’t played much and need to build my confidence and get some wins back.”