Andy Murray well-placed for Sunshine Double rankings charge
Seven-time Grand Slam winner Mats Wilander believes that the Sunshine Double offers Andy Murray a great chance to charge up the rankings.
AS ATP 1000 events, the twin American hard court tournaments offer plenty of rankings points but the matches are only best of three sets.
Murray showed tremendous grit to battle to the Qatar Open final before losing to Daniil Medvedev and then withdrawing from the event in Dubai that followed.
He has shown that he can prove a match for almost any player and Wilander feels he could make these two tournaments count as he chases a seeding at Wimbledon.
“Indian Wells and Miami are perfect tournaments for Murray because it’s not five sets, it’s three sets,” Wilander told EuroSport.
“He’s got a day off between most matches. Let’s say he gets to his semi-finals and he’s going to play the first few matches with a day off in between, that makes a huge difference for Andy.
“And then I think you have to put the comfortable factor into the equation. He’s played Indian Wells and Miami so many times. They are very difficult places to play hard-court tennis, to me, because the conditions are extremely different from Indian Wells to Miami.
“Indian Wells is very high, bouncy, it’s very slow. So there are certain opponents that you’re going to have a problem with, and there are certain opponents that you’re going to find easier to play on a court like that.
“And Murray, being a tactical genius, I think he welcomes the challenge of playing in the desert air where it’s really cold at night and it’s very hot and fast during the daytime.
“And to Murray, I think these conditions and circumstances are perfect for him. So I believe this is where he can make his move higher up in the ranking.
“Because, again, we have to remember someone like Murray – if he’s going to win a Grand Slam tournament again – the first step is to be seeded, he needs to be seeded amongst the top so that he doesn’t run into Novak Djokovic in the third or fourth round.
“He needs to play the best players in the quarters or the semis because he needs the matches and the confidence before he faces the likes of [Daniil] Medvedev or Djokovic or Rafael Nadal.”
Wilander feels that it is huge for Murray, that he has found a way to start winning matches again.
“The good thing is that he’s winning matches. And the good thing is also that when Murray, or anyone for that matter, when you’re towards the end of your career and you’ve trained really hard to get back, when you get involved in matches like he had in the Middle East, when he was match points down in Doha, for example, and then he wins that, they suddenly turn into finals.
“You think ‘this is the last match that I’m playing this week’ and then you happen to win it, so it’s ‘oh my goodness, I’m playing another one’. The advantage of that is that it keeps the interest level very high.
“I think it makes it very easy for him to keep going, to keep practicing. Of course, physically he’s got to get worn out, but it puts him in that situation where it’s like ‘OK, tennis is what I do, waking up in the morning feeling sore, I’m used to that. Let me have my team work on me. What do I need to do on the tennis court?’
“I think he welcomes the challenge of being a professional tennis player day in and day out again. Now of course, Murray is very happy winning these matches. But on the other hand, I think he must be looking at what Rafa has done in the last few years and what Novak has done in the last few years. And he has to be thinking, well, hold on, I used to do what they’re doing, why can’t I do that again?
“So I think that while he’s happy to be winning these matches and to be in the limelight again, I think anytime that he loses, he’s most probably thinking ‘OK, I need to work harder, I need to work on my serve, I need to hit my forehand harder’.
“So I think Murray is just in a process and he’s trying to improve his tennis, and people around the world, we are absolutely loving the fight that he brings and I’d love to see him win big tournaments again.”
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