Australian Open: Andy Murray ready for the heat after back surgery pays off

 

Tennis Correspondent

Andy Murray wrapped up his public preparations for next week’s Australian Open by losing an exhibition match to Lleyton Hewitt here in Melbourne yesterday, but is in a good frame of mind.

The back surgery he underwent in September has freed him from the pain which had troubled him for more than 18 months and even if he is short of match practice, Murray is confident that he can quickly rediscover his form.

“My back feels way, way better than it did before the surgery,” the Scot said after his 7-6, 7-6 defeat by Hewitt at Kooyong. “That is what is very pleasing for me just now. The rest of the body hurts a little bit because I haven’t played.

“It is a little bit frustrating because the back feels better, but when you haven’t played matches for four months, a couple of other things hurt and other things stiffen up. However, my back so far has felt very good. It feels much better than it did in Doha. I stiffened up a bit after the first couple of sets there – it was cold – but the last few days in practice my back has felt much better than it did even a couple of weeks ago.”

He added: “In practice I’ve played well this week. I’ve played some good sets against [Jo-Wilfried] Tsonga, Hewitt, [Tomas] Berdych and [Nikolay] Davydenko. I’m going to play Juan Monaco tomorrow and Kei Nishikori on Sunday. I’m playing with good players and I am absolutely fine in practice. I’ve held my own and I’ve played well. I’m not as far away as I maybe thought I was a couple of weeks ago.”

Yesterday’s draw was kind to Murray. In the first round he faces the 29-year-old Japanese Go Soeda, the world No 112. The winner faces a qualifier in the second round, while Feliciano Lopez and John Isner are seeded to meet Murray in the third and fourth rounds respectively. Thereafter he could play Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, Rafael Nadal in the semis and Novak Djokovic in the final.

After a relatively cool week the temperature here moved into the thirties yesterday and is set to climb 10 degrees next week. “It will be hot when I play on Tuesday and I need to get in the hours in those conditions,” Murray said. “Playing matches in these conditions is tough. Just being back and playing in front of a lot of people when you haven’t done it for three months is different to playing on a court when there’s no one there.”

Djokovic, with no other members of the “Fab Four” in his section, looks to have been given the easiest draw and Federer the toughest. Radek Stepanek, Fernando Verdasco and Tsonga are all possible opponents for the Swiss before the quarter-finals. Nadal has the most challenging first round, against the 21-year-old Australian Bernard Tomic.

The women’s world No 1, Serena Williams, has a similar task, having been drawn against 17-year-old Ashleigh Barty, one of the host nation’s brightest prospects. Victoria Azarenka, winner here for the last two years, and Maria Sharapova are top seeds in the other half of the draw.

Laura Robson was handed a tough draw in the first round against Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens, who reached the Wimbledon semi-finals last year. Heather Watson was hoping to join the British  No 1 in the main draw via the qualifying tournament.

Having beaten France’s Stéphanie Foretz Gacon, who retired with a shoulder injury after losing the first eight games, Watson met the American Irina Falconi in the final round of qualifying early today. Johanna Konta lost 6-1, 6-2 to Ukraine’s Olga Savchuk in the second round.

News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez missed a penalty before scoring the opening goal with a header at the back post
footballLive! Sanchez makes up for penalty miss to put Arsenal ahead
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Sport
Rooney celebrates with striker-partner Radamel Falcao after the pair combine to put United ahead
footballManchester United vs Newcastle match report
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.

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all