Murray Fully Focused On Singles In Winston-Salem
Andy Murray is ready to give singles his undivided attention. After testing the doubles waters in June with a successful foray that included a title at Queen’s Club (w/Lopez) and several high-profile wins, he begins his return to singles in earnest at the Winston-Salem Open. The former World No. 1 starts his week on Monday against American Tennys Sandgren.
Although Murray had always hoped to progress towards a singles comeback, it was during the Coupe Rogers in Montreal that he felt ready to take the plunge.
“I was hoping to be playing some doubles and practising some singles, but… being scheduled to play doubles at 10:30 pm was not allowing me to practise singles the way I wanted to,” said Murray. “Doubles was really helpful and beneficial for me to get back on the court and feel what my body was going to be like. But once I started thinking about singles, it was just slowing things down a bit.
“The opportunity came up to play [in Winston-Salem] and from everyone I chatted to, they said it’s a nice tournament. Very convenient, lots of practice courts. It felt like a smart move to come and play here before heading home. Hopefully I can get more than one match here and try to win my first singles match since coming back from the surgery.”
Murray returned to singles action last week at the Western & Southern Open, falling in the opening round to eventual semi-finalist Richard Gasquet. Although the Brit was encouraged by how he felt physically in his first singles match since undergoing hip surgery in January, he is focusing on tangibles like movement, recovery time and remaining pain-free rather than lifting the trophy this week.
“My expectations are very low. I’m not thinking about winning events like this just yet. I’m just trying to get matches,” said Murray. “I’m hoping that by the end of this year, I can start getting back to the best that I’ll be. I just want to get through some matches and hopefully my body holds up well.”
Regardless of how this week goes, Murray finds himself in a position that would have been unfathomable earlier this year. Just six months ago, his wife needed to help him put his socks on. Now that he's pain-free for the first time in years, Murray's perspective on life has dramatically shifted. He's striving for a more balanced life on Tour as he continues his quest for more success.
"When I was going out and playing golf or walking the dogs [pain-free], you’re just encouraged to get out and do more stuff,” said Murray. “Before that, I didn’t want to. I wanted to put my feet up because doing those things was detrimental and painful. I’m excited to go out and do other stuff, which you need. You don’t want to have your mind just on your tennis and your hip, which it was for a couple of years.”
But Murray’s mind will certainly be on tennis this week. His presence in Winston-Salem has captivated the North Carolina fans, many of whom crowded his practice on Sunday with Russian Andrey Rublev.
The Brit has been feeling the love ever since his emotional press conference at the Australian Open, where he admitted the state of his career was uncertain. Now that he’s firmly back on Tour, the love still hasn’t wavered.
“Even when I was walking down the street post-Australia, people were telling me to keep going and keep fighting and keep trying,” said Murray. “After I spoke in Australia, Rublev was one of the first guys I bumped into in the locker room. I didn’t even know him that well, but he gave me a huge hug and told me to keep trying. There’s been more moments like that over the past six months than before."