Murray Confident He Can Compete With The Best
Andy Murray has reached No. 1 in the ATP Rankings, owns 101 victories against opponents inside the Top 10, and has won 45 tour-level titles. But a hip injury kept the Scot from competition for 11 months.
You would think that the time away might plant seeds of doubt in the Scot's mind, but after defeating former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka in 77 minutes at the Nature Valley International on Monday to earn the first triumph of his comeback, Murray showed no such apprehension.
“From the amount of practice that I have had and how I have played in the matches, I'm pretty positive that maybe not this week or next week, but given a bit of time, I can still compete with the best players again,” Murray said.
Last week, Murray made his return against Aussie Nick Kyrgios, who is now 16-6 on the season. The former World No. 1 showed signs of what he’s capable of, playing gritty defence and battling all the way through to push the talented Kyrgios to a third-set tie-break.
“I think I have done pretty well,” Murray said, “I probably expected it to be harder, but I am only two matches in, as well.”
Murray’s opponent, Wawrinka, is on the same comeback boat, himself recovering from a knee injury. The Swiss was full of praise after their match on Monday, saying the Scot moved and played well in their 19th FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter (Murray leads 11-8).
“A player like Andy will never lose his tennis, that's for sure. Being out of the Tour for so long, then it's about putting the physical aspect again back on the match,” Wawrinka said. “It's tough to really say where his level is because he didn't need more today. I think in general, his game will always be there. Now it's going to be hopefully good to see him healthy and build on that, and see how he's going to improve the next few weeks.”
Murray will face yet another tough test early on his road back to form, when he plays No. 2 seed Kyle Edmund, with whom he practised ahead of the tournament. While the Scot said the British No. 1 label is not all that important to him, he will play the man who took the tag from him this March after a nearly 12-year run.
“It's a really good test for me. I would have played in the space of a week, ten days, three excellent players. Obviously Stan's had his injury problems, as well, but he's still a top player,” Murray said. “For me to get another match against someone as good as Kyle is a really positive thing for me. Hopefully I'm going to go out and perform well and win the match and do my best to do that.”
All in all, Monday’s victory was a good step in the journey for Murray. But he knows that at World No. 156 in the ATP Rankings, there are still many steps left to return to the top of the sport.
“I guess that's one of the problems with being a professional athlete and having competed at the top of the game. You have expectations and stuff,” Murray said. “I always thought like when I came back that I would be more pumped for every single win. But the reality was it's the first round of an event and it was obviously great, great to get through it, but [I] obviously want to do more than that.”