Murray Not Satisfied With Personal Best In Paris
The World No. 2 is into his first Roland Garros final, but is focused on going one round further
The World No. 2 hadn’t reached a final on clay prior to the 2015 season, but has since won three titles, including two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Series titles. Having entered 2015 with a 63-37 record on clay, he has gone 35-3 on the surface since then.
“Maybe I didn’t believe in myself enough,” admitted Murray. “I always thought clay was my worst surface, but getting some wins against the top players last year made me realise I could [do well]. That has changed my mentality when I go on the court. I don’t feel like I’m off-balance anymore. I can chase most balls down and it’s an easy surface for me to move on.”
Belief has been crucial for Murray these past two weeks. He was a set from defeat in his first two rounds against qualifier Radek Stepanek and wild card Mathias Bourgue before rallying to victory. He then broke a streak of three semi-final losses at Roland Garros by advancing to his first final on Friday with a four-set win over No. 3 seed and defending champion Stan Wawrinka.
“At this stage of my career, to do things I have never done before is nice,” said Murray. “That’s one of the things that motivates me. My results on clay over the past couple of years have been really special to me because I never really expected that.”
Part of his newfound success on clay comes from learning to play the same way he does on other surfaces. While Murray found himself drawn into grueling baseline rallies in the past, he is now finding ways to approach the net and end points more quickly to conserve energy.
“I tried to come forward any time I had the chance,” said Murray after his match against Wawrinka. “When the conditions are so slow, it’s not that easy to finish the point from the back of the court all the time. It’s important to finish up at the net when you can just to make a few of the points a little bit easier.”
Murray will renew the top rivalry of 2016 when he plays No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic on Sunday. Although Djokovic has won 12 of their past 14 matches, Murray convincingly won their most recent meeting in the final of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Series event in Rome. He can also take confidence knowing he has pushed Djokovic to the limit at Roland Garros, narrowing losing in a five-set semi-final last year.
Although Murray will leave Roland Garros having accomplished a career breakthrough regardless of what happens on Sunday, he’s not content with just achieving a personal best in Paris.
“I’m here to try and win the tournament, not make the final,” he said. ”That’s my goal.”