It was one year ago that Andy Murray began to plot his climb to the top spot of the Emirates ATP Rankings on the European clay. A title in Rome was followed by a run to the final at Roland Garros and the Scot was soaring.
But Murray is the first to admit that his current clay-court campaign is a bit different. Much has changed for the World No. 1 and after consecutive early defeats at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Madrid and Rome, he is seeking to rediscover his rhythm on the terre battue of Paris.
While he acknowledges that his struggles are real, Murray believes that he needs to embrace them in order to break from them.
“I haven’t been doing well recently,” Murray told the assembled media prior to his Roland Garros opener. “The last few months have not been good. I haven’t played well. I need to accept that I’m struggling and then find a way to get through it. I will get through it. I’m sure of that. When that happens, I don’t know. Hopefully it happens in a few days. Hopefully happens at this event. If it doesn’t, maybe it happens during the grass.
“But the only way to get through it is to work your way through it, keep working on your game, try and understand what’s not been going right. Although it’s very frustrating, you have to try to enjoy this part of what we do, as well, because the struggles are part of what make the good times so enjoyable. I need to enjoy my struggle a little bit just now and that will help me get through it quicker, I believe. The more frustrated you get, it doesn’t help either. I’ll try and get through it as quickly as I can.
“I don’t know exactly why that happens, what the reason for it is, because I still love the travel, I love practising, I love the training aspect. I still love tennis. But it just happens sometimes. I’m sure everyone in here sometimes maybe hasn’t enjoyed writing stories for a few weeks sometimes. Maybe there are no interesting stories at the time. And it’s not as much fun. Everyone goes through it. But I know why I play tennis; because I love it and I enjoy it. I’ll keep plugging away until I get back to where I want to get to.”
Nadal, Djokovic In Same Half At Roland Garros
Murray is making his 10th appearance at Roland Garros, with his best result coming last year in finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic. The top seed opens against Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov. He leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 2-0, having most recently prevailed in Beijing last year.
A potential blockbuster third-round encounter against Juan Martin del Potro awaits the Scot, with eighth seed Kei Nishikori and ninth seed and reigning Rome champion Alexander Zverev also looming in his quarter of the draw. Murray admits that he has been feeling under the weather recently, but says he will be ready to go for the second Grand Slam of the year.
“I still pretty much got everything done that I needed to do,” Murray added. “I was supposed to practise on Monday here. I traveled on Sunday. Sunday afternoon was when I started to feel a bit sick. It was Monday and Tuesday that I didn’t feel great. But I still practised a bit on Tuesday.
“I feel much better just now. I’ve just got a cough, but I was just a bit sick for a couple of days. It’s been frustrating, obviously, because it’s happened the third time this year where I have had to miss days or have been in bed. I’m surprise it hasn’t happened more really, considering the amount that we travel and how long the season is. I have been pretty lucky with that over the last couple of years. I have not had too many sort of bad illnesses.
“So maybe they have just come in a small space of time. But I feel okay now. I will be all good when the tournament starts. It happens. We are in the locker rooms with lots of players, lots of sweat, lots of germs and in airplanes all the time. It happens. I practised a few days in London. It was raining and very cold. But I still tried to practise quite hard through that. Maybe that was why I just picked up a little something.”
Murray is slated to open his Roland Garros campaign on Tuesday. He owns a 34-match win streak in Grand Slam first rounds.