Tuesday 6 August 2013
The Wimbledon champion is back on the match court and Wimbledon.com notes that he is as determined as ever to hunt down more Grand Slam success...
Who really imagined that Andy Murray's work ethic would float to the bottom of a champagne flute? Or that his fitness regime would suffer death by a thousand canapes?
A month after becoming Britain's first male Wimbledon singles champion since tennis's Bronze Age, Murray returns to competition at this week's Rogers Cup in Montreal. Murray may not win the tournament - why, he may not even win his opening match against either Grigor Dimitrov or Alexandr Dolgopolov - but don't imagine for one moment that's because he has become a post-Wimbledon slacker, that, after achieving what he calls "the pinnacle of tennis", he's going to coast for the rest of his days.
In his first month as Wimbledon champion, he sheltered from the world in his Surrey home, he sat on an empty Centre Court because the only place to escape the madness of winning Wimbledon was "Wimbledon itself", he holidayed in the Bahamas with his girlfriend Kim Sears, and he felt pain during a mini training-block in Miami as he returned to the business of hitting tennis balls over a net.
What Murray didn't do was think, "I've won Wimbledon, the biggest tournament in tennis, so I'm going to take it easy now".
In Murray's mind, he has to prepare for each Grand Slam as if he is about to play the last major of his career. In other words, he has to do everything in his power to ensure that he gives himself the best possible chance of winning another of the sport's biggest prizes. When the US Open starts at the end of this month, Murray will have the new experience of going to a Slam as the defending champion. And after everything he went through in New York last season - including that five-setter against Novak Djokovic in the final - he is not going to want to arrive in Flushing Meadows feeling unprepared.
The process of getting ready for the US Open, and the chance to win a third grand slam title, won't start in Canada this week. It started during that training camp in Florida (where it was so hot that he could only hit for an hour and a half in the morning each day). You could even say that it started when he sat on Centre Court trying to make sense of the day he beat Djokovic at the All England Club to become Britain's first men's champion since Fred Perry in 1936. Maybe he needed to do some processing before he could pick up a racket again.
Murray could have a very busy fortnight, as Montreal is the first of successive Masters-level events, with a tournament in Cincinnati next week. "I want to prepare for each Slam like it's my last," Murray told The Daily Record in Montreal. "It took me a long time to win my first one, and I want to give myself another opportunity at the US Open. Practising in Miami was getting back to reality for me. It was so hot and I could only practise for an hour and a half in the morning before hitting the gym in the afternoon. I got to enjoy Wimbledon for a few weeks but now it's time to get ready to try to win the US Open."
As one Canadian commentator put it, this week's tournament is "the first biggie since Wimbledon". One indication of how seriously Murray has been taking the Rogers Cup - a tournament he has won twice before - is that he arrived several days in advance with his coach Ivan Lendl. Murray is doing this properly. Roger Federer is missing, because of a back problem, but Djokovic is in town, as is Rafa Nadal. For many observers, though, the most interesting part of the week will be following Murray as he takes his first competitive steps and swings as Wimbledon champion.
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