The clay-court shoes have gone away for another year and it is time to prepare for grass. Andy Murray was back home in London yesterday with barely time to reflect on his best ever season on clay, culminating in his run to the quarter-finals of the French Open. By tomorrow he will be back practising on grass in readiness for the Aegon Championships, beginning at Queen's Club on Monday, and the start of Wimbledon a fortnight later.
Murray's main goal next week will be to find his feet again on grass and to get some matches under his belt in preparation for Wimbledon. Changes in the ranking system mean that even winning Queen's would yield only 250 points, compared with 2,000 at a Grand Slam tournament or 1,000 for a Masters Series event.
"I love Queen's as a tournament and I really enjoy playing there, but there's not as much pressure this year because of the way they've changed the points structure," Murray said. "You want to play matches to get used to the courts and the movement on grass, but it's not the end of the world if you lose early. There are a lot of exhibition events the following week and the Eastbourne tournament's not a long way away. If you feel like you want competitive matches you can go there, though ideally I'd have a decent run at Queen's."
Twelve months ago Murray went to Wimbledon as the world No 11. Now he is No 3 and closing in on Roger Federer, the No 2. He believes the experience he has gained in the last 12 months – including reaching the US Open final and the quarter-finals here – will help him cope with the inevitably high levels of expectation at his home Grand Slam tournament.
"There are always nerves before going into a big tournament, but I don't feel as nervous or anxious," he said. "I feel I can play consistently well now in the big tournaments and, hopefully, at Wimbledon I will play some of my best tennis."
Murray's run here, which ended with defeat to Fernando Gonzalez on Tuesday, should boost the 22-year-old Scot's confidence. "To reach the quarter-finals of a Slam is tough," he said. "Not that many people have managed to do it and it does make the achievement better when you consider that there's not one clay court in the whole of Scotland, where I grew up. If you look at it like that, getting to the last eight was a very good run for me."