Murray: I Never Expected To Have These Results On Clay
Andy Murray: Clay-court specialist?
On his 29th birthday, Murray finally bucked the trend, stopping Novak Djokovic in his bid for a three-peat at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia and ending the Serb's run of dominance in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry. He triumphed 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and 36 minutes, securing his 36th tour-level crown.
But of even greater significance is Murray's increasing level of comfort on clay. The Scot clinched his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown on what was long believed to be his weakest surface. With a maturing shotmaking arsenal on the dirt, he improved to an impressive 29-3 record in the past 13 months.
"I never expected to be having the results I have been having on clay," Murray admitted following the match. "But if you actually look at the past results, I have had opportunities to get to the final of Monte-Carlo and get to the final of the event here. I served for the match against Novak a few years ago and had a chance against Rafa a few years ago, too.
"Maybe I didn't believe enough in myself. I always thought clay was my worst and hardest surface for me, but then last year, getting some wins against the best players made me realize a little bit. I had always been told that clay should really be my best surface, but it took me a long time to gain a little bit of confidence. But also I did make huge improvements in my movement on the surface, as well.
"That has changed my mentality when I go on the court a lot. I don't feel like I'm off-balance anymore and I feel like I can chase most balls down. It's an easy surface for me to move on now."
Murray says he credits his coaches for implementing a new training program that has allowed him to feel more comfortable. The 29 year old firmly believes he is now a threat on all surfaces.
Back to World No. 2 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, Murray is turning his attention to the second Grand Slam of the year as he looks to continue his strong run of form.
"The last couple of years, clay has probably been my most successful surface, which I never expected to be the case, but I'm not complaining about it. I'm going to Roland Garros with a lot of confidence and really good preparation. I feel like I'm on the right track. So hopefully I can have a good run there."