MUR­RAY WANTS HIS MOJO BACK

World No 1 strug­gling to stay mo­ti­vated af­ter dip in form

New Straits Times - - Sport -

PARIS

BRI­TAIN’S Andy Mur­ray, who has suf­fered a dip in form this year, said on Wed­nes­day it had been hard at times for him to stay mo­ti­vated since he be­came world number one last year.

Ap­pear­ing at a pro­mo­tional event in Paris with French Olympic judo cham­pion Teddy Riner, who has dom­i­nated the men’s +100kg cat­e­gory in his sport for years, Mur­ray praised Riner’s mo­ti­va­tion to stay at the top for so long.

“I got to number one in the world at the end of last year and there’s been some times this year where it has been dif­fi­cult to keep up the mo­ti­va­tion and set new goals,” Mur­ray said.

With the French Open start­ing on Sun­day, three-time grand slam win­ner Mur­ray looks a pale imi­ta­tion of the player who won his last 24 matches of 2016 to knock No­vak Djokovic off his pedestal and seize power in men’s ten­nis.

Not since Pete Sam­pras in 1999 has a world number one had a worse start to a year, with Mur­ray’s win per­cent­age at a fairly mod­est 70.8 per cent.

The Scot said the last few months had been dif­fi­cult and he had had some prob­lems with his el­bow early in the year.

“But over the last seven, eight years of my ca­reer I al­ways wanted to per­form my best and play my best ten­nis at the grand slams and that’s still the case now,” he said.

“I al­ways feel ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion when I come to a slam even if I have been play­ing badly,” added Mur­ray, who said he hoped for a good tour­na­ment in Paris.

How­ever, in re­sponse to a journalist’s ques­tion, he said it was far from be­ing the most dif­fi­cult pe­riod of his ca­reer.

“No, I am ranked number one in the world. I have been in worse po­si­tions than this. When I had my back surgery it was very dif­fi­cult for me.

“There were times when I was younger when I was strug­gling a lot more than now,” he said.

“The last few months have been dif­fi­cult but I be­lieve I will turn it around and I hope it starts here in Paris,” added the Scot, who has never won the French Open but did reach last year’s fi­nal where he lost to Djokovic in four sets.

With Mur­ray turn­ing 30 ear­lier this month, the top five male ten­nis play­ers in the world are now at that age or over.

Mur­ray said he was “a lit­tle bit” sur­prised that no younger play­ers had bro­ken through.

“I think last year a lot of peo­ple were maybe ex­pect­ing that to start hap­pen­ing be­cause Roger (Fed­erer) and Rafa (Nadal) both had quite se­ri­ous in­juries last year but both of them have come back ex­tremely well this year,” he said.

“The way ten­nis has been go­ing the last 10, 12 years or so, it has looked like play­ers are start­ing to play bet­ter as they get older,” he said.

“I am sure the younger play­ers will break through very shortly but, hope­fully, I still have a few more years in the top few spots in the rank­ings,” he said. Reuters

“But over the last seven, eight years of my ca­reer I al­ways wanted to per­form my best and play my best ten­nis at the grand slams and that’s still the case now.”

REUTERS PIC

Andy Mur­ray plays a shot to Fabio Fognini in the Rome Masters on May 16.

AP PIC

Pe­tra Kvi­tova makes a state­ment to the me­dia on Dec 23, 2016 af­ter fight­ing off a knife at­tack that in­jured her left hand.

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