Murray eyeing Berrettini upset: “Physically I am well prepared”

The Scot says he’s in better physical and mental shape than he has been for some time

Andy Murray pre Aus Open 2023 AI / Reuters / Panoramic
Australian Open •First round • completed
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Andy Murray says he’s physically better prepared for this year’s Australian Open than at any time since before the hip surgery which saved his career.

The Scot, who thought he might have to retire in 2019 when he had a metal hip inserted just after the Australian Open, takes on Matteo Berrettini in the first round, one of the toughest draws he could have had.

But the 35-year-old, back inside the top 50 as 2023 begins, was in upbeat mood on Saturday as he discussed his form and fitness, believing he can spring an upset at Melbourne Park, where he has reached the final five times.

“It’s obviously a tough draw,” he said. “But I also feel like I’m in a much better place than where I was during any of the slams last year coming into it.

“I feel well prepared, I feel ready to play a top player early in the event whereas maybe last year at times my game didn’t feel that great and getting a difficult draw, a tough match early in the tournament didn’t felt great. I feel like I’m in a better place this time to deal with that.”

Andy Murray indoor 2022
Federico Pestellini / Panoramic

Murray: “I’ve improved some things”

Berrettini has won three of the four matches with Murray, including the most recent one at last year’s US Open, a four-set win in the third round, but the Scot says a good off-season enabled him to add a few things to his game.

“I know how I feel today in comparison to where I felt going into the US Open and I’m playing better, physically I’m in a better place,” he said.

“A good period of practice gave me some time to work on some things and improve some things. I got a lot of work done away from the court as well in the gym so physically and in the matches I have played, whether that was the matches in Kooyong or in Adelaide or when we played up in Scotland, my movement and stuff was significantly better than what it would have been at this stage last year.

“When I move well I tend to play well and that’s really important for me. That’s probably been the thing I’ve been happiest about. The conditions are playing pretty fast here so when the conditions are quick it’s even more important to be light on your feet and moving well. I think that’s been the biggest improvement.”

Murray still looking forward

And Murray said he believed he could still improve his game in the coming months, looking to reach the second week of a Grand Slam event, something he has not done since he underwent surgery in 2019.

“I don’t feel like right now is a time for reflection for me,” he said. “I’m looking to the future of however long that is that I’ve got is to focus on how I can get the best out of my game and my body and try and achieve the best results possible.”

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