ATP World Tour Finals 2014: I’m still not back to my absolute best, confesses Andy Murray

The Scot faces Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the opening match at the O2 Arena

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The Independent Online

Andy Murray goes into this week’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals knowing he has yet to rediscover his best form.

The 27-year-old Scot, who plays Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the opening match at the O2 Arena, has made major strides by winning three singles titles in the last two months.

But after returning from back surgery last year he admits: “I’m not exactly where I would like to be. I still want to get four or five per cent better. But compared to where I was four or five months ago, I am much, much closer.”

Having returned to competition at the start of this year, Murray quickly appreciated how much work he had to do to catch up with his major rivals.

“When you’re away from the game for three or four months, you just fall behind them a bit,” he said. “They improve, they get better. They might become a bit quicker, they might be serving a little bit better. Each player is different in that respect.

“It does take time to catch up when you miss a period of time. I learned that this year because I’d never really been away from the game for that long since I’ve been close to the top of the game.”

Murray missed the year-ending championships 12 months ago following his operation. He watched some matches on television but spent most of his days doing rehabilitation work.

“When you’re away from the game, you realise how much you miss playing, but I wasn’t bitter,” he said. “Some people go through their whole career without any injuries, some people are injury-prone, and I would say I’ve been fairly lucky throughout most of my career.”

Murray is looking forward to working with his coaches, Amélie Mauresmo and Dani Vallverdu, during the off season. He plans to spend more time on the court this winter.

The Scot admitted that one of his biggest problems this year has been a lack of patience in matches. He said: “I need to just make sure I make more of the right decisions, rather than make any major changes in my game. A lot of it can be tactical and mental mistakes you make on the court. I’m sure we’ll make some small tweaks but nothing major.”

Sunday’s matches at the O2

Midday J Benneteau and E Roger-Vasselin v M Granollers and M Lopez.

Not before 2pm A Murray v K Nishikori.

6pm D Nestor and N Zimonjic v I Dodig and M Melo.

Not before 8pm R Federer v M Raonic.