Murray 'hooked' on election debates as he prepares for Madrid

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Andy Murray was back at Queen's Club yesterday for the announcement of the field for this year's Aegon Championships – he is one of seven top-10 players, the strongest line-up in the event's history – but it was fair to say that the grass-court season was not uppermost in his mind.

Murray is preparing for next week's Masters Series tournament in Madrid, his final clay-court warm-up before the French Open later this month. However, it is a contest closer to home that has drawn his attention of late. The Scot has followed the General Election closely, though he is keeping his voting intentions close to his chest.

"The TV debates got me hooked," Murray said. "We obviously do a lot of travelling and spend a lot of time in hotel rooms. The TV in hotels can be pretty painful, but I was loving it. I had Sky News and BBC News on every single day. I was pretty much hooked on it."

His vote cast, Murray will go to Madrid, where he will be hoping to get more clay-court matches under his belt. He has played only three this year and won just once, but was pleased with his improved form in Rome last week and is not concerned at his lack of matchplay.

"I played some of my best tennis at the start of the year in Australia, yet I hadn't played a competitive tournament for about eight weeks before the Australian Open," he said. "I took a five-week break after Wimbledon last year and I won Montreal. The year before that I took a long break after the US Open and I won Madrid and St Petersburg.

"It's all about practising properly, training well for every tournament, and being in the best shape you can be. That's what gives me confidence – hitting thousands of balls on the practice court."

As for his recent bad run, Murray insisted: "It happens in every sport. It happens in everybody's life. Everyone goes through bad periods and moments. I went through a bad period, but the most important thing is that mentally I feel good."

Murray admitted the French Open presented the toughest mental challenge of all the Grand Slams. "You can't get away with just hitting big serves or slashing big forehands on clay," he said. "You have to have patience. Against every player and in every match there are points where, physically, you're out of breath and there are going to be points where you get run ragged all over the court."

He also believes time is on his side. "I've always said that I think I'll win a Grand Slam, but it doesn't have to be this year," he said. "If you go into Grand Slams thinking you won't get another chance, it won't help the way that you play. I'm going to work as hard as I can and take my time. I don't want to be panicking at 22 years old, which is pretty young. Most of my friends haven't finished university yet."

With the World Cup taking place during Wimbledon, Murray agreed there might be less focus on himself, though he insisted that his performances had not been affected in the past. As for the football, he said he hoped England would do well but thought Spain were the most likely winners.

Before Wimbledon, Murray returns to Queen's to defend his title. The world No 4 lines up alongside, among others, Novak Djokovic (No 2), Rafael Nadal (No 3), Andy Roddick (No 7), Fernando Verdasco (No 9), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (No 10) and Marin Cilic (No 11). Juan Martin del Potro (No 5) has also entered but is a major doubt for the summer after having surgery yesterday on the wrist injury that has kept him out since the Australian Open.