Andy Murray will continue his campaign to earn a place in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals by hoping to build on the positive approach that helped him to win his first title for 14 months. Barely 48 hours after winning the Shenzhen Open, Murray will on Tuesday play his first match at the China Open in Beijing knowing that he still has work to do to qualify for the season-ending finale in London.
Despite saving five match points in the Shenzhen final against Tommy Robredo, to win a title for the first time since his Wimbledon triumph last year, Murray admitted that there were still occasions when his on-court demeanour was too negative.
“Maybe at times this year, it hasn’t been as good as it could be,” Murray said. “It’s something that I’ll continue to work on. In matches like [the Shenzhen final] when you’re able to get out of a negative mentality or body language and calm yourself down and become more positive, that’s a very good sign. I’ll use that in the next few weeks.
“It’s something I definitely need to work on a lot. It wasn’t really an issue in the beginning part of my career and then it slowly crept into my game.
“I did improve a lot, really, over the last two and a half or three years, especially when I was working with Ivan [Lendl].”
Murray said his 29th career title had put him in good heart for the rest of the season. “Obviously, it’s been a long, long time since I’ve won a tournament and the way that the final was won, too, doesn’t happen very often,” he said.
“It’s very rare to come back and win a match like that, so it was an emotional week for me. I’m glad I managed to fight my way through it and win the title and hope I can try to win another one before the end of the year.”
The Scot did not face any top 20 players in Shenzhen but might have to beat three of the world’s top five if he is to win in Beijing this week.
Marin Cilic, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, the winners of the last three Grand Slam tournaments, could be his opponents in the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final respectively, though he has his work cut out even to reach the second round. Murray starts on Tuesday against Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz, with the winner to meet Pablo Cuevas or Mikhail Kukushkin.
Victory in Shenzhen took Murray up one place to No 10 in the “Race for London”. The eight spots in the field for the World Tour Finals go to the players who have earned the most ranking points during the calendar year. Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer are the only players who have already secured their places at the O2 Arena.
Stan Wawrinka, Cilic and Kei Nishikori are also well placed to qualify, leaving five players in serious contention for the remaining two places. With only 200 points separating David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Milos Raonic, Murray and Grigor Dimitrov, there is everything to play for in the five remaining weeks of competition before London. Federer is the only leading player not playing this week in either Tokyo or Beijing.
“That’s why Murray was playing the week before Beijing in Shenzhen,” Djokovic said in a break from his preparations for the China Open. “That’s why most of the players, the ones that are in contention to get to the final eight, are definitely trying to perform their best tennis at this time of the year.
“It is the crown for the whole year’s achievement, being part of the World Tour Finals in London. That’s why these tournaments in Beijing, Tokyo and Shanghai, of course – then the indoor season in Europe – will be very competitive, very strong, with great quality matches.”
The eight places for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in November go to the players who have earned the most ranking points in 2014
Race to reach the O2
1 Novak Djokovic (qualified) 8,150pts
2 Roger Federer (qualified)7,020
3 Rafael Nadal (qualified)6,645
4 Stan Wawrinka4,795
5 Marin Cilic3,935
6 Kei Nishikori3,845
7 David Ferrer3,535
8 Tomas Berdych3,510
9 Milos Raonic3,440
10 Andy Murray3,405
11 Grigor Dimitrov3,335
12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga2,650
13 Ernests Gulbis2,445
14 Roberto Bautista Agut 1,800
Jerzy Janowicz (above) is Andy Murray’s opponent in the first round of the China OpenReuse content