Andy Murray is 'feeling good' for return to competition

 

doha

Put Andy Murray into a competitive situation and you can guarantee that he will fight to the finish. Playing a first-round doubles match here at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open on the opening day of the new season, Murray and Nenad Zimonjic went a set and a break down to Germany's Daniel Brands and Florian Mayer before the world No 4 launched a spirited recovery with his bold returns and volleys. The Scot and the Serb won 3-6, 7-6, 10-8, to the delight of a packed crowd on the second show court.

Tomorrow afternoon Murray will switch to centre court when he launches his singles campaign against the Qatari wild card Mousa Zayed. It will be the Wimbledon champion's first competitive singles match since he underwent back surgery at the end of September.

Murray is taking nothing for granted, but it is clear that he has derived encouragement from the first three months of his rehabilitation programme.

"So far the results have been good," a relaxed Murray said as he sat back in a chair in the VIP area at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex.

"I haven't lost any strength. I was training two weeks after the surgery. I was on the bike. It was quite a slow process, but everything has gone well. I don't feel like I've lost speed or strength. But I'll have a better idea when I start playing matches against the best players in the world. It's fine doing all this stuff in the gym and in practice, but until I start doing it in the matches that's where I'll get the confidence from."

Murray played two matches at an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi last week and will be hoping for a good run here before heading to the Australian Open, which begins in 13 days' time.

"I pulled up well after the matches [last week] and that's what you're assessing just now," he said. "I practised with David Ferrer yesterday for a good hour and a half. We played a lot of games and sets and I woke up this morning feeling good.

"Obviously, I need to play matches. It's fine to feel good after one or two matches, but it's a long season. It's important my back holds up to the consistent pounding that your body takes playing matches week in and week out, but it's been good so far."

Murray said he had felt positively about his recovery ever since deciding to have the operation this summer. He had been suffering with back trouble for more than 18 months.

"When it's something that you've been dealing with for a very long time and you're the one that makes the decision to have the surgery and get it fixed, it's a lot easier to deal with," he said.

"I made that decision. I didn't want to deal with it any more. It had been causing me pain for a long time. So I was fine. I was really looking forward to having it done. I just wanted to have it done and start the process of getting back on the court."

He added: "There were a lot of things that were a problem with my back, but what exactly the one thing that it was I may not necessarily know. I'm just hoping that the procedure that I had done works. I was getting a lot of pain in my lower back, down my leg and into my foot. They were the symptoms, but they could have been caused by quite a few different things."

Murray will be pleased to be first on court at 2.30pm this afternoon – not so much because it gives him the chance to celebrate Hogmanay, but because he will avoid the chill of the evenings here at this time of the year.

"On the first day we got here it was very cold and that is not really what I want for my back just now, but I'm going to have to get used to it at some stage," he said. "All the training I did in Miami was in extreme heat and humidity, but I need to adjust to Melbourne very quickly from here."

Having won the title in Brisbane in the first week of the last two seasons, Murray said he had chosen to play in Abu Dhabi and Doha this time because he had struggled 12 months ago with the sudden change to the hot conditions in Australia. He had been keen to play in Abu Dhabi, where he was guaranteed two matches, and did not want to make a 14-hour trip to Brisbane and then have to play a match within a day or two of arriving.

Murray is one of two Britons in the main draw here after Dan Evans won his third qualifying match in succession. The 23-year-old from Birmingham, who became British No 2 in September, beat Japan's Taro Daniel 6-2, 6-2 and now meets Latvia's Ernests Gulbis, the world No 24.

Watson's brisbane exit

The British No 3 Heather Watson suffered a straight-sets defeat to ninth seed Dominika Cibulkova in the first round of the Brisbane International.

The 21-year-old, who has fallen to 121 in the world after suffering from glandular fever, had battled through qualifying to reach the main draw at the hard-court event, but was no match for the world No 23 from Slovakia who prevailed 6-4, 6-3.

Cibulkova will play Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm in the second round.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links