x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Patient Murray to bide his time

Twice a losing grand slam finalist, the Briton says he hopes to finally fulfil his lifelong dream in the very near future.

Andy Murray in front of the Burj Al Arab. The Briton says he is disappointed he will not face Roger Federer, who withdrew injured yesterday.
Andy Murray in front of the Burj Al Arab. The Briton says he is disappointed he will not face Roger Federer, who withdrew injured yesterday.

Andy Murray, who last month became the second grown man to burst into tears in successive years after losing an Australian Open final, is convinced that his time will come sooner rather than later as he pursues a burning desire to bring a grand slam title to Great Britain.

The talented Briton, third in the world and confident of going over (he was briefly ranked number two last year), is hoping that it is third time lucky after losing the US and Australian Open finals to the imperious Roger Federer, who had been turned into an emotional wreck after the 2009 final by his own nemesis Rafael Nadal. "I've now been in two grand slam finals and lost on both occasions to the best player of all time," said Murray who this week seeks to add the Dubai Championship to the two titles he has won in neighbouring Qatar.

"That's tough, but I think I'm going to have more chances and I believe that next time I get to a grand slam final I'll win and that's the most important thing. It may not happen, but I believe it will and that's what's important." Asked whether the fulfilment of that dream will come sooner rather than later, Murray responded with a bemused grin: "I don't know. I hope it happens at the French Open, but if it doesn't happen at the French Open I'll try again at Wimbledon. If it doesn't happen there I'll try again at the US Open. I'll just keep trying and give my best."

Murray who has a decent record against Federer apart from in the matches that really matter, had been looking forward to renewing his rivalry with the Swiss at the Aviation Club this week when he was scheduled to meet Federer in the semi-finals. He was regretful that Federer will not be able to keep that appointment because of a lung infection. "Yes, I love playing against him," he remarked. "I said from the first time I played him, that it's always great fun and a challenge for me. I would like to have had the chance to play against him, but it's not to be.

"It's disappointing for the tournament," added Murray, who himself was forced to withdraw midway through last year's event through illness. "Obviously, if he's sick and not feeling well then there is nothing that you can do. "He had an illness a couple of years ago and kind of played through it, which didn't help him that much. You don't want to let those sort of things drag on. I'm sure he made the right decision for himself."

Like Federer, Murray has tried to take things easily since the emotionally charged finale at Melbourne Park. "I've not done a lot since the final," said Murray, who upset organisers of the recent tournament in Marseille by making a late decision to withdraw when top seeded. "I took 10 days off and didn't train, didn't go to the gym. I didn't really do anything. Body and mind were a bit sore and tired after five weeks over in Australia and I just relaxed.

"I started hitting a little bit after 10 days or so. I still felt a little bit jaded, a little bit tired. I just needed to try to stay fresh. Mentally I feel good. I think the whole period I had in Australia was the best I've had there for a while. "I played some of the best tennis of my life there and it was just unfortunate that I couldn't win the final. I still think it was a very positive five weeks and I definitely feel a lot more confident as a player since then."

Winning a grand slam is more of a priority for Murray at the moment than achieving his other career objective - the world No 1 ranking. "You need to focus on the grand slams and the Masters Series and the ranking then takes care of itself," he said. "Last year my results in slams were fine but they could have been better. That's the difference between being ranked No 4 at the end of the year and being ranked No 1 or No 2. If I can perform like I did in Australia in all of the slams there's a good chance my ranking will move up. I've been as high as No 2. I would like to try to go higher than that."

Murray, 22, who won six of his 14 titles during a productive 2009, is confident of adding to his haul here, especially after his two Doha triumphs. "Yes, I enjoy playing over here," he enthused. "The courts are normally a little bit quicker than over in the [United] States. "This one here is one of the quickest and the balls get a lot faster as the match goes on, rather than slower like in Australia or in the States. The courts normally play quick and I like that. I'll try to play well and get back to playing matches again. I think that outside the Masters Series and the grand slams, this tournament and Queen's [London] are my two favourites to come to. They treat the players really well and this place is very different to a lot of the world.

"They've got some of the biggest and best things over here. It's all happened so quickly. It's very different. They put on a really good tournament. You get to stay in a hotel like this [the Burj Al Arab], which doesn't happen every week. That's why they get so many of the top players here." l:wjohnson@thenational.ae