Cool Mur­ray

World No 1 in­sists there’s no jinx at Aus­tralian Open

China Daily - - FRONT PAGE - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Lon­don

I don’t feel like I have men­tal hur­dles now. I feel like I’m past that, to be hon­est. I just show up and give my best to win.” Andy Mur­ray, on his chances at the Aus­tralian Open

Andy Mur­ray in­sists he does not have a men­tal block when it comes to the Aus­tralian Open, de­spite los­ing the fi­nal of the sea­son-open­ing Grand Slam five times.

The 29-year-old world No 1 — whose sea­son opened with a loss to No­vak Djokovic in last week’s Qatar Open — told The Times in an in­ter­view he had also pon­dered whether he should ac­cept the knight­hood he re­ceived on New Year’s Day.

Mur­ray, who is in Aus­tralia pre­par­ing for next week’s Aussie Open, is adamant he no longer has is­sues over tour­na­ments he has yet to win.

“I don’t feel like I have men­tal­hur­dles now ,” he said .“I feel like I’m past that, to be hon­est.

“I just show up and give my best to win. So long as I give my best ef­fort, I don’t judge my­self or feel like I’ve failed here (Mel­bourne) or any­thing like that.”

Mur­ray said he con­ferred with those clos­est to him — but not his brother Jamie — over whether to ac­cept the knight­hood when he was of­fered it in the mid­dle of De­cem­ber.

“I spoke to a few of the peo­ple clos­est to me. I didn’t have too long, but ob­vi­ously you think about some­thing like that be­cause I do feel like it’s ob­vi­ously a big honor to be of­fered that, but it comes with maybe a lit­tle bit more re­spon­si­bil­ity,” said Mur­ray, who had a mem­o­rable 2016 be­com­ing Bri­tain’s first ten­nis No 1 of the pro­fes­sional era, win­ning Wim­ble­don and de­fend­ing his Olympic ti­tle.

“I’m still very young, I’m still com­pet­ing and ob­vi­ously I don’t want any­thing to dis­tract me or af­fect my per­for­mance on the court.

“I kept it fairly quiet and just spoke to the peo­ple that I was clos­est to and ex­plained what the sit­u­a­tion was. I just tried to get the best ad­vice pos­si­ble.”

Mur­ray is clear, though, how he wishes to be ad­dressed by his ri­vals on the cir­cuit.

“A few of the play­ers have been chat­ting to me about it and ask­ing how it works, what does it mean and what do we call you,” Mur­ray said.

Mur­ray, whose win in the 2012 US Open was the first in a Grand Slam by a Bri­tish ten­nis male ten­nis player since Fred Perry in 1936, said an­other thing that has changed as he has ma­tured is how he re­acts to per­sonal crit­i­cism.

“When you are com­fort­able with who you are, some­one say­ing that you’re bor­ing or mis­er­able or what­ever it is, it doesn’t af­fect you like it does when you are younger and you are still not sure of your­self,” said Mur­ray.

“When you grow up in the spot­light and you don’t know ex­actly who you are or what you’re go­ing to be­come, that’s prob­a­bly a bit more dif­fi­cult.”

Mur­ray, who said he likes to or­ga­nize his sched­ule so he can see his daugh­ter Sophia and wife Kim ev­ery cou­ple of weeks, re­ceived a flood of con­grat­u­la­tions when he be­came No 1, but phone mes­sages left by two sport­ing gi­ants were par­tic­u­larly mean­ing­ful.

“I got one from Alex Fer­gu­son and one from Jose Mour­inho,” said Mur­ray.

“That was pretty cool. I ob­vi­ously watch a lot of foot­ball and they are two of the most re­spected and best man­agers in one of the hard­est sports to suc­ceed in at the high­est level. That was pretty nice.”

Such is Mur­ray’s affin­ity for soc­cer, he said he would like to be in­volved in the sport when the day fi­nally comes to put away his racket — although he would also like to coach a Bri­tish player.

“I would like to do some­thing in foot­ball,” said Mur­ray, whose grand­fa­ther Roy Ersk­ine played for his­toric Scot­tish club Hiber­nian in the 1950’s.

“I watch loads of it. I am into my fan­tasy sports a lot, and foot­ball is at the top of my list.”

As the top two seeds in Mel­bourne, Mur­ray and Djokovic will be on op­po­site sides of the men’s draw and seeded to meet each other in the Jan 29 fi­nal.

Mur­ray, who lost to the Serb in the 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016 Aussie fi­nals, trails Djokovic 25-11 in their en­coun­ters, but the Scot dom­i­nated the sec­ond half of last year.

In con­trast, Djokovic’s sea­son im­ploded af­ter a thir­dround loss at Wim­ble­don, fol­lowed by a first-round exit to Juan Martin del Potro at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and a loss to Stan Wawrinka in the US Open fi­nal.

With six Mel­bourne cham­pi­onships un­der his belt, Djokovic will make his­tory as the player with the most Aus­tralian Open vic­to­ries if he man­ages to win the tour­na­ment again.

A sev­enth tri­umph would vault him past Aus­tralia’s Roy Emer­son, who also won six ti­tles — but all of those came dur­ing the ama­teur era of the 1960s.

IBRAHEEM AL OMARI / REUTERS

World No 1 Andy Mur­ray serves to No­vak Djokovic dur­ing their clash in the Qatar Open fi­nal in Doha on Satur­day. Djokovic won 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

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