- 04 Mar 2021
It wasn’t the result – or even the performance – he wanted, but something about Andy Murray’s tone after his 7-5, 6-2 loss to Russia’s Andrey Rublev suggested that he’s more determined than ever to continue ascending the ATP rankings this spring.
Maybe it’s the constant doubting from the peanut gallery, those who love to call for his retirement every time he stumbles against the type of player that he used to chew up and spit out. Maybe it’s just in his nature. Andy Murray has never settled for anything but absolute elite and he’s not about to do that in 2021, even during a global pandemic and with a metal hip.
As for the criticism, Murray can handle that on his own. The 33-year-old has always been his own worst critic. He doesn’t really need the assistance that so many seem willing to offer in that department.
“I would hate to come off a match tonight, and be like ‘Yeah, great work Andy, you did really, really well, up until the end of that first set. Don’t worry about the end of the first set, just focus on those eight games’,’’ Murray told reporters on Wednesday in Rotterdam. “Because for me I just don’t learn quickly that way. I like to focus on what the issue is and what the problem is and really understand why that’s happened so I know what I need to work on. That’s how I like to work. Everyone is different obviously but that’s what works best for me.”
He blew it in the big moments
There is a reason they call him Sir Andy Murray. 🤴
— ABN AMRO WTT (@abnamrowtt) March 3, 2021
Whatever did go right for Murray in a very competitive opening set went awry in the tight moments, where he lost his grip and let Rublev race away. It’s just not acceptable, Murray says.
‘I did some things quite well in the first set but when it mattered I didn’t play well,” he said. “I lost my serve from 30-0 love up, I hit two double-faults and a bad forehand, which to me is just not good enough.”
Murray tossed plenty of credit Rublev’s way. The three-time Grand Slam champ knew he was facing one of the ascendant figures in the men’s game, and that’s likely why he was doubly miffed about the way he let the opening set slip.
“When you are playing one of the best players in the world, in those moments if they come up with something great to to win [important] points, you come off and you expect that, but I felt in that moment at the end of the first set that I blew it a bit. I had 15-40 in the next game to break back and I think I messed up a little bit there as well to be honest.”
Probably should have won the first set
Murray, ranked 123 heading into this week, will have to accept the loss and move on. He says he hopes to play Dubai and Miami, before starting the clay season. He’s not sure where and when he will play on clay, but he does like the idea that the surface is not as tough on the body.
As for today, the Scot was left to rue another spate of uncharacteristically loose play.
“It’s just not good enough,” he said. “I’m not used to making those errors in those moments and I’m finding that quite frustrating, and mentally, finding myself kind of looking back on those moments a little bit too much, which maybe affected me a bit in the second set, but some good things in there, and I’m disappointed because I think I messed the end of the first set up – I probably should have won the first set.”
Nishikori: it’s a stupid question to ask
Another player on the comeback trail had some kind words for Murray on Wednesday in Rotterdam. That would be Kei Nishikori, who defeated Alex de Minaur in a thrilling three-setter. He was asked if reporters were also recommending that he retire, like they often do to Murray. Nishikori said no, then launched into a moving defense of the Scot.
“I think it’s a little bit stupid to ask him when he’s gonna retire, because that’s something he’s going to decide,” he said. “He’s the only one, he knows how he feels about [his] body. I think you can kind of tell, he’s not in the best shape yet, but the way he’s moving right now, but I hope he can come back, he’s my favorite player we had many battles, I’m hoping he can come back to Top 10 again, and Top 5. I think we need him.”
“I hope he can come back…we need him.”
— TENNIS (@Tennis) March 3, 2021
Murray discussed the topic this week, after his first-round win over Robin Haase. He admitted that the negative feedback can be grating at times. The critics get louder with each loss, Murray says.
“I’m getting told to retire, that I should stop playing, that I’m finished and I’ve got nothing left and whatever, and it’s sad and all of these things and it’s like, it’s not easy,” he said. “I feel like I’m playing for my career just now, each time I step on the court, which is a motivation in some ways, but it also adds a bit of extra stress, there’s a bit of extra doubt there, and on top of that I’m playing with a metal hip, which is hard – trust me it’s not easy.”
— ATP Tour (@atptour) March 3, 2021