Andy Murray spent his first day in practice at the All England Club yesterday with coach Amelie Mauresmo. Wimbledon.com explains why he's not worried about his pre-Wimbledon preparation...
Anyone sending himself up on The Queen’s Club grass, pouting his lips off like a male model for his own take on Zoolander’s ‘Blue Steel’, isn’t a cause for concern (unless, of course, it wasn’t a spoof).
That was Sunday afternoon at Queen’s when Andy Murray – calm and seemingly at ease – returned for the ‘Rally for Bally’ exhibition event. So let no one suggest that Murray’s summer had been blown apart on Thursday in Kensington. The Wimbledon champion's early departure from The Queen's Club tournament shouldn't have started a panic in the shires, or in his own head. Murray doesn't have to win the Aegon Championships to have a chance of holding up a golden cup at the All England Club.
Ideally, the first tournament of Murray's partnership with new coach Amelie Mauresmo would have had the Scot extending his winning run on London's grass courts. Prior to this year's appearance at Queen's, Murray hadn't lost on a lawn since the 2012 Wimbledon final; he then went on to win the Olympic gold medal at the All England Club that summer, and then last year he went through the draw at both Queen's and Wimbledon. Murray’s grass-court run ended with a third-round defeat to Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic. Winning the Queen's title again wouldn't have done Murray's preparations for Wimbledon any harm, but losing early shouldn't damage them either.
This is that time of the year, during the run-up to The Championships, when Murray traditionally has mouth ulcers; no other tournament can do that to him. Scrutiny, stress and ulcers are central to Murray's grass-court swing. But you certainly couldn't detect any anxiety in Murray's demeanour as he joshed on the lawns at the weekend.
There's a recent example of Murray going out early at Queen's and then going deep into the Wimbledon draw. Two years ago, Murray lost his opening match in Kensington and he then made his first Wimbledon final, pushing Roger Federer during a four-set match. And it's not as if Murray's recent schedule has been light on competitive matches; unlike last year, when he missed the French Open because of a back injury, he made an impact at Roland Garros where he reached the semi-finals.
Murray, who noted that Novak Djokovic went straight from Roland Garros to a holiday in Ibiza, had always been planning to have a few days of rest after he was finished at Queen's. That rest period – or as Murray phrased it, "a bit of peace and quiet" – was brought forward by a few days. “I’d never say it’s a blessing in disguise – I don’t enjoy losing – but at least now I get the chance to give my body a bit of a break,” Murray wrote in his column on the BBC website at the end of last week. “I had planned to take Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off if I’d got to the final at Queen’s, but that can just move forward and give me five and six days on the grass [the week before Wimbledon].”
In addition to practice sessions at the All England Club, Murray will be playing some exhibition tennis ahead of 'opening' Centre Court on the first Monday of The Championships.
20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...
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