Special Memories For Murray On Barcelona Return
Scot reminisces ahead of Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell
As he approaches his 30th birthday, Andy Murray has entered a more reflective phase in his life. And returning to Barcelona is bringing back many happy memories for the Scot.
"I was talking to my team a few weeks ago, said Murray. "I'm approaching 30, my father-in-law recently turned 60 and my coach has just turned 40. We were just talking a little bit about which years we've enjoyed most in our lives.
"I was here in Barcelona for two years and I loved it. It was the first time that I was away from my family home and even though it was hard, it was the first time I'd tasted independence. I would say that they were two of the best years of my life.
"I haven't been here since 2012,” continued the Dunblane native. “A lot has happened since then. I have great memories, not only from training and living here, but also because I played my first professional match on one of these courts and I remember it well."
Indeed, it was in 2005 in Barcelona, when he was No. 397 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, that Murray lost in three sets to World No. 79 Jan Hernych. He was 17.
The two years spent at the Sanchez-Casal Academy were key to his development and 13 years on from that adventure, Murray arrives at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell as World No. 1.
"At first it was incredible, because once you're on the court, you don't think about being No. 1. It's the same when you're No. 3 or 4, you don't think about it. You have to focus on winning the match. Yes, you feel really proud at having reached the highest point, and I hope to stay there for a long time, but it's hard. It took me 12 years to get there, and the physical and mental effort it took to do it last year was enormous. It's not easy to stay there, but I hope I can."
To reach the top, you have to be able to excel on every surface. And in time, Murray has become a force on clay. "I feel like I'm a much better clay-court player than five years ago,” said the right-hander. “The last time I came here I hadn't won a clay-court tournament, nor been in big finals, nor beaten some of the best players on this surface. But in the past few years I've had great wins against Rafa [Nadal] and Novak [Djokovic]."
Recovered from his elbow injury, Murray also feels the start to this season has been special for tennis. "For me, it's been very exciting," he said. "Roger and Rafa are playing great tennis after a tough year for both of them with injury. It's good to see them at this level. The top players keep getting better and it's logical that there are more injury problems as your body responds differently. I hope we can all stay fit and healthy and it will be exciting to see what happens the rest of the season."
Murray will open his Barcelona campaign against either Dustin Brown or Bernard Tomic.