After his 7-5, 6-2 loss to Andrey Rublev at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, Andy Murray discussed the lessons he can learn from playing one of the best players on the ATP Tour as he continues his recovery from hip and pelvic injuries.
The 2009 champion, who claimed his first tour-level victory of the year in the first round against Robin Haase, went toe-to-toe with the World No. 8 before the Russian claimed a crucial break at 5-5 and charged to victory. The former World No. 1 expressed his belief that playing matches like these — against the elite players on the ATP Tour — will help him in his bid to improve his level and achieve great success at future tournaments.
“I want to be playing at this level because I learn a lot from a match like tonight,” said Murray. “The issues and the mistakes that you make get amplified more at this level… It is getting that balance right between getting enough matches and then also playing at a level where I am able to learn and pick things up as quickly as possible. I do feel tonight there were some good, positive signs there. Just when it mattered, I wasn’t good enough. I will need to improve.”
The key moment of the match came at 5-5, when Murray dropped his serve from 30/0. Rublev pushed the three-time Grand Slam champion behind the baseline with aggressive forehands and capitalised on two double faults to claim the first break of the match.
Murray was unable to convert two break points in the following game and Rublev raised his level in the second set. The 46-time tour-level titlist admitted that the frustration he felt from his missed opportunities late in the first set may have carried into the second set.
“I lost my serve from 30/0. I hit two double faults and a bad forehand. To me, that is just not good enough,” said Murray. “When you are playing one of the best players in the world in those moments, if they come up with something great to win those points you come off [the court] and say it is understandable. I felt in that moment at the end of the first set that I blew it a bit. I had 15/40 in the next game to break back and I think I messed up a little bit there as well.
“In the second [set], he was much better than me. No question about that. I think at the end of the first set, I messed up… I am not used to making those errors in those moments and I am finding that quite frustrating and I am finding myself mentally looking back on those moments a little bit too much, which maybe affected me a bit in the second set. There were some good things in there and I am disappointed because I messed the end of the first set up. I probably should have won the first set.”
Despite his disappointment, Murray took time to find positives in his performance. For almost an hour, the 33-year-old held his own from the baseline against a player who has won 17 consecutive matches at ATP 500 events.
“I thought I moved well for the first hour or so,” said Murray. “He is one of the bigger hitters on the Tour and, in the first set, I didn’t feel like he was getting too many free points from the back of the court. He was having to work hard to get the ball through me. I thought that was positive.”
Murray is not the only high-profile star attempting to rediscover his form after surgery. The Brit shared his thoughts on long-time rival Roger Federer’s upcoming return to the ATP Tour at next week’s Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha. Federer will be making his first appearance since the 2020 Australian Open. Since that event, the 20-time Grand Slam champion has undergone two surgeries on his right knee.
“I just want to get out and compete and just enjoy doing what I am doing. I imagine Roger would be the same,” said Murray. “I am sure he has been training hard and is excited to get back out there and compete. I am sure in time, providing that his body is good, that he will play top-level tennis again because he is that good. Even if there is a slight drop-off physically for him, I would back his skill against most players. I am sure he will be fine.”