Murray: 'Obviously I'm Playing Pretty Good'
World No. 1 encouraged by fortnight in Paris
Few people would have pegged the Brit to be a set away from a major final at the start of the tournament. He arrived at Roland Garros with a tame 4-4 record on clay this season, and struggled in his first two matches in Paris against Andrey Kuznetsov and Martin Klizan. But the World No. 1 turned the corner in his third round victory against Juan Martin del Potro and continued to improve with each match.
Against Wawrinka, Murray hammered 36 winners and hit plenty of flashy shots throughout their grueling baseline rallies. It’s a level of tennis he knows he simply wasn’t producing a few weeks ago and will need to keep up for the second half of 2017. Barring a poor grass-court season, Murray should retain his hold on the No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking until at least August, when the likes of Nadal, Wawrinka, Djokovic and Federer could mount a challenge at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments in Montreal and Cincinnati and the US Open.
“I had been working hard in the buildup to the event. I needed to. I needed to spend a lot of time on the court. Not all of the matches were plain sailing for me. They were tricky, so that was good,” said Murray. “I need to understand what worked well this event and in the 10 days of buildup to it. I have to make sure I continue to do that throughout the year, not make any mistakes with my preparation or my training, and hopefully finish the year strong.”
Perhaps the most encouraging sign for Murray is how well he responded physically to a match that lasted four hours and 34 minutes. His right elbow injury prevented him practising at full power as recently as two months ago, but he was still serving and hitting at maximum velocity in the business end of his battle against Wawrinka.
Although he admitted that a comparative lack of stamina played a factor in Wawrinka storming through the final set, he believes that going through a marathon match like this will serve him well for the rest of the season.
“Over four-and-a-half hours, there are going to be periods in the match where you're not hitting the ball as well and your opponent is playing well. You need to try and ride out the storm a little bit,” said Murray. “I expected to have a few more ups and downs in this event than usual because of how I was feeling coming in. I haven't played many matches at that intensity in these past six or seven weeks. Sometimes things can get away from you a little bit quicker in those moments.”
The Brit will now turn his attention to the grass. He’s scheduled to defend his title in less than two weeks at the Aegon Championships in London. Despite the obvious differences between clay and grass, Murray said his experiences in Paris will benefit him as he competes in London.
“I put myself in a position to reach a slam final, so I'm obviously playing pretty good,” said Murray. “Hopefully this gives me a good base to go into the grass-court season. Often when I have done well on the clay, I feel like that's helped me a little bit on the grass. Certainly the matches are not as physical, so going through matches like I did today is a good step for me.”