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Grass greener for Murray at Queen's

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murray

AFP

No hard feelings ... Spain's Rafael Nadal shakes hands with Britain's Andy Murray at the end of their French Open showdown. Photo: Dominique Faget

London – Andy Murray admits he needs to work quickly to heal the scars from his French Open thrashing against Rafael Nadal as he starts his Wimbledon preparations by defending the title at Queen’s Club.

Murray’s hopes of reaching the final at Roland Garros for the first time came to a humbling end on Friday with a brutal 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 loss to world number one Nadal in the semi-finals.

The 27-year-old Scot is hardly the first to have been embarrased by Nadal on the red clay of Paris, where the Spaniard has won the title eight times and holds an incredible 65-1 win-loss record.

But it was the lethargic nature of Murray’s tame performance that was concerning, especially with so little time to recover mentally and physically before the grass-court campaign gets underway at Queen’s in west London on Monday in the lead-up to the defence of the Wimbledon crown he won so memorably in 2013.

Murray would love to have a little longer to regroup after a draining two weeks in Paris, which saw his body, still fragile after last year’s back surgery, pushed to its limits by two five-set victories over Philipp Kohlschreiber and Gael Monfils.

“I probably would rather have a little bit of time after a match like that, to be honest,” Murray said.

“I mean, it’s been a good tournament for me in many respects, but I’m very disappointed with how the (Nadal) match ended.

“Ideally I would like a few days a way to think about it and then start getting ready again.”

While Murray would have relished handing Nadal a rare defeat at the French Open, in reality Wimbledon offers a far more realistic chance for the world number eight to add to his two Grand Slam titles.

Just 12 months ago he ended Britain’s 77-year wait for a male winner of the Wimbledon singles crown with a straight sets victory over Novak Djokovic.

And Murray, a three-time Queen’s champion, is confident he can emulate that triumph on the lush lawns of the All England Club to make up for all his struggles over the last 12 months.

“It’s definitely the most time I have spent on court in a two-week span in the last six months since I came back,” Murray said.

“So in some ways that’s obviously a good thing, that I managed to get through some long matches.

“I think going on to the grass in some ways will help me. I have a lot of good memories from the grass-court season over the last couple of years.

“I expect to play well at Wimbledon (which begins on June 23). I’m really looking forward to going back. I think it will give me a lot of positive energy.”

Since winning Wimbledon, Murray has faile to reach a single final of any ATP Tour event or Grand Slam and has also parted company with coach Ivan Lendl.

He hopes to appoint a new coach soon, but first he will focus on Queen’s, where his challengers for the title include reigning Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka.

“I love London, I love the atmosphere, it is an important tournament with a lot of history, and playing at Queen’s Club gives me the best possible chance to become comfortable on grass,” said world number three Wawrinka.

World number six Tomas Berdych, France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, beaten by Murray in the 2011 Queen’s final, and emerging Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov are also among the leading contenders. – Sapa-AFP


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