Open for business: Andy Murray gives a positive fitness update and looks forward

Jonathan Veal, PA
PA Media: Sport

Andy Murray says he is prioritising the grand slams as he prepares to play his first match in seven months at the Battle of the Brits on Tuesday.

The three-time grand-slam champion has been out of action since November with a bruised bone which hampered him during Great Britain’s Davis Cup campaign, but makes his comeback against Liam Broady in the all-British tournament at the National Tennis Centre.

Murray was set to return to action on the ATP Tour in March, but that was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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With tennis now able to resume, brother Jamie is hosting an exhibition round-robin tournament in Roehampton that sees the former world number one joined by Dan Evans, Broady, Kyle Edmund, James Ward, Jay Clarke, Cameron Norrie and Jack Draper in the singles competition.

It gives Murray the chance to get some competitive action under his belt ahead of the planned August resumption of the main tour which will see two grand slams come in quick succession, the US Open and the French Open.

There are several other rearranged Masters 1000 events, but Murray says his priority are the two grand slams.

“My hip’s been feeling better, probably the last three or four weeks. It feels better than in March,” said Murray.

“I think the schedule is tricky. I understand the reasons why it’s like that, but I don’t understand exactly which tournaments I will or won’t play.

“The Grand Slams will be my priority, to play in those ones. But, in terms of what I would do in the lead-up to them, I’m not sure.”

Thought I’d leave a friendly reminder on my car to the rest of the field of who is NOT the favourite ahead of the start of #BattleOfTheBrits tomorrow. 👴🏻😬

Posted by Andy Murray on Monday, June 22, 2020

Murray would likely be one of the higher profile names to play at the US Open, with Roger Federer out injured and Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic dubious about travelling.

One of Djokovic’s problems were the safety protocols, which he described as “extreme” and restrict the number of people players can have on site to one.

That would not deter Murray from going to New York.

“I don’t mind what the situation is, providing it’s safe. If I was told I could take one person with me, for example, you can make that work,” he said.

“I would probably go with a physio in that situation, with some coaching done remotely. That’s not a perfect situation, obviously.

“To prepare for a grand slam, you’d probably be over there for three to four weeks beforehand, with no coaching input in your practices or anything.

“So, from a performance perspective, that’s tricky.

“But I also appreciate that these are unprecedented times, so you have to make do with what’s possible. That sort of thing wouldn’t bother me much. For me it’s more about the safety.”

It is perhaps little surprise Djokovic thinks safety protocols at Flushing Meadows are too extreme, considering he has staged an exhibition tour with no social distancing in place and as a result has seen Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric contract coronavirus.

Murray believes that even though countries like Croatia and Serbia – where events have been played – have different rules, safety measures should have been in place.

“All countries, obviously, have different rules in place,” he said. “But I think, though, once you start to bring in international travel into it, and players are coming in and team members from all different parts of the world, you need to make sure you’re taking all the correct measures, safety measures, all the precautions that you can, to try avoid a situation like they got into over there.

“Hopefully, it’s nothing too bad, there’s not a big outbreak there, because my understanding is that in Serbia and Croatia they were handling it fairly well.

“But, once you start having mass gatherings with people coming in from all sorts of countries, it’s a recipe for it to kick off. It’s kind of a lesson for all of us to take – if we weren’t already – to take this extremely seriously, to have as many safety measures in place as possible.”

Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski kick off the Battle of the Brits tournament in a doubles match against Broady and Norrie, before Edmund faces Ward and Evans plays Clarke.

Andy Murray is next on against Broady before Draper and Edmund take on Clarke and Dom Inglot in the doubles.

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