Murray: “I need to improve my decision-making”

The Scot has been frustrated by a number of close defeats of late but he says his hip is holding up well

Andy Murray Indian Wells 2021

Here’s the good news for Andy Murray; his body’s feeling better than it has at any point in a couple of years, perhaps since his career-extending hip operation at the start of 2019. And here’s the bad news; he’s yet to rediscover part of what made him such a great player; his decision-making in the biggest moments.

The 34-year-old Murray, little short of a walking miracle in tennis terms after he had a metal hip inserted in early 2019 – when he had thought he might never play again – was beaten 6-4, 7-6 by world No 5 Alexander Zverev in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on Tuesday night.

It was another good performance from Murray, who had been encouraged by his win over precocious teenager Carlos Alcaraz in the previous round, but the Scot was clearly frustrated, as his rather succinct Tweet summed up nicely.

Murray led by a break in each set against Zverev but could not hold on and eventually went down in another narrow defeat. In the past few weeks, he’s lost tight matches to Casper Ruud, Hubert Hurkacz and most notably, in five sets to Stefanos Tsitsipas at the US Open.

The performances themselves must be hugely encouraging to Murray as he looks to lift his ranking, currently down at No 121 and heading lower after his Indian Wells exit. But the former world No 1 and three-time Grand Slam champion wants more.

“I’m not saying he played great either, but I don’t think I played well today,” he told reporters. “I mean, there’s a lot of mistakes. There was some good stuff in there, but it was mixed in with bad. There was no…consistency, I don’t think. My sort of average level was just not really there today. It was either good or bad. I wouldn’t put that down as playing really well.

“The positive for me to take from it is I obviously had opportunities again. I guess that’s positive. I didn’t feel like I played a great match and still had chances, so that’s positive. But I’m disappointed because I obviously want to be winning these matches. I haven’t in the last few months. Yeah, something needs to change.”

Andy_Murray_Indian Wells_2021
©AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Hip feels good, mind needs to follow

Murray said his hip was holding up well after a run of recent events, the first time he’s really been able to string together a series of events since his return from hip surgery, back in the summer of 2019.

“This is physically the best I’ve felt for a while (but) I’m sort of battling my game a little bit,” he said. “The consistency isn’t there. I don’t know, the decision-making is not great in the important moments still. (These are) I guess, the moments that I was always – I think for the most part – very strong in, and I haven’t been this year. So (I am) disappointed with that.”

Murray is due to play in both Vienna and Antwerp, the latter where he won his most recent title in 2019. But he is unlikely to play in the Davis Cup.

“I also don’t feel right now I would be playing, either,” he told BBC Sport. “Obviously that would be up to Leon (Smith, the captain), but I’m not sure I deserve to play in that team. “Cam (Norrie] and Dan (Evans) have had a great year. Liam Broady’s in and around the top 100 now and we’ve got very strong doubles as well.

“Right now, I’m not planning on playing the Davis Cup and with the late finish to it, and early departure to Australia, with my schedule between now and the end of the year, I am going to have to rest and take a break and give my body a chance to breathe.

“And I want to make sure in the off season I get to spend as much time with my family as I can because I have been away from that recently and that will be case when I go to Australia as well.”

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