Andy Murray returns to action this week at the Citi Open in Washington DC, playing for the first time since losing in the second round of Wimbledon. Murray, 36, has said he is “surprised” about his level, considering he is playing with a metal hip, but wants to keep improving and has revealed the work he has put in since Wimbledon to be ready for the hard-court summer.
Andy Murray admits he is “sometimes surprised” that he is still able to compete with the best in the world but remains “motivated” to continue to improve.
Murray has undergone two hip operations in 2018 and 2019, the latter involving a metal implant.
He has not been able to return to the level that took him to three Grand Slam titles and world No. 1, but has recorded some impressive results.
Earlier this year he made the final of the Qatar Open, and he started the grass season with 10 straight grass wins.
He has also got to No. 42 in the world and has shown that he can compete against the best on his day.
“I’m surprised by that sometimes, because I know how difficult it is for me physically now,” he told the ATP Tour ahead of playing the Citi Open in Washington DC this week.
“That my game is still able to match up and compete with the best players, yeah, I’m surprised by it.”
Murray has not played since losing in five sets to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round at Wimbledon.
The former world No. 1 was left disappointed by the defeat but sounds like he now sees things in a slightly more positive perspective.
“It’s hard because ultimately, I would say in maybe certain events or certain periods of the year, it’s easier to not ignore the results, but not place too much emphasis on them,” Murray said.
“But obviously when you play in the major competitions, they are the ones that ultimately you want to perform well in and that you will get judged on and at Wimbledon, it really wasn’t like I played a really bad match against Tsitsipas. So when I reflect on that tournament, I’m disappointed with the result.
“But there’s still signs for me there that from a tennis perspective I can still compete and win against the top players in the world, even though I lost that match.
“If I’d gone out and lost 6-1 6-1 6-1, played terribly and lost comfortably, the stage of my career that I’m at, maybe I’d start to look at things a bit differently.”
Murray also says he is still looking for ways to improve his game.
“Obviously the game always keeps evolving, keeps improving, and you need to do that as well as a player. And I enjoy that. It’s one of the things that motivates me – trying to improve – whether that’s on the court or in the gym,” he said.
“Like seeing my scores in the gym are improving or that my speed is getting a bit better, or [that] I’m serving at a slightly higher percentage or harder, I love that.
“It’s one of the great things about tennis in that that’s kind of down to me and my team. I can make that those changes if I want to, and if I’m willing to put the work in, and I still enjoy that.”
After the Citi Open it is expected that Murray will play the Canadian Open and the Cincinnati Open before the US Open, which starts on August 28.
Murray, who will open against Brandon Nakashima or Aleksandar Vukic in Washington DC, has not had much success at this stage of the season in recent years.
However, he has put in the work since Wimbledon to give himself the best chance.
“I think a challenge for all of the players is the conditions. You’ve gone from playing across the grass season where physically it’s pretty straightforward in terms of you’re not getting any extreme weather, the points tend to be a little bit shorter, it’s a bit easier on the body.
“Whereas, I really feel like here that the physical side, if you’ve taken care of that and you’re in good shape, physically, it can have big benefits going into this stretch of tournaments.
“So I kind of look forward to the preparation of it. I did a lot of heat training in heat chambers and bike sessions in pretty brutal conditions to try and prepare myself for it.
It doesn’t make going on the court that much easier, but if you’ve done that work and your opponent hasn’t, it can give you that little physical, psychological edge and I like that.”