Murray learns from 2010 slump
Saturday 12 March 2011
Given his pledge to look forward rather than back, Andy Murray would no doubt prefer not to contemplate the direction his career took exactly 12 months ago.
As the 23-year-old Scot prepares for his opening match in Indian Wells this weekend at the start of two back-to-back Masters Series tournaments on outdoor hard courts, he is determined not to repeat the mistakes of last year.
Having played the best tennis of his life to reach the 2010 Australian Open final, in which he lost to Roger Federer, Murray subsequently went into a slump from which he emerged only in mid-summer. Between Melbourne and Wimbledon he reached just two quarter-finals.
This year has started to follow a similar pattern – Murray again reached the Australian Open final, losing to Novak Djokovic, and played poorly in his only other match in Rotterdam last month – but the world No 5 is thinking positively.
"Last year I had maybe four bad months after the Australian Open and I don't want that to happen again," he said in California as he prepared for his opening match against America's Donald Young. "I've learned from last year that I need to keep improving, keep practising, trying out new things, staying in good shape, getting in the gym."
He added: "I feel like now I have learned not to put the emphasis all the time on winning matches. I want to make sure that I play my best tennis at the Grand Slams and I think I have started to do that better the last couple of years. I've just got to make sure I stay confident about the level I am trying to get to."
Murray, who was due to play doubles with his brother Jamie last night against the Brazilians Marcelo Mello and Bruno Soares, believes it is important to restrict his tournament appearances at the start of the year. He has played only in Melbourne and Rotterdam, having pulled out of Dubai last month.
"You need to have a little trust in your training and what you're practising, so when you come into the tournaments you're not as uptight if you haven't played a match for quite a while," he said. "I feel good. I've played a lot of practice sets to make sure I'm not going to be that rusty and I've been hitting the ball well."
Murray has never played 21-year-old Young, the world No 143 and a former world junior No 1. Thereafter the Scot is seeded to meet Tommy Robredo and Fernando Verdasco, followed by Robin Soderling in the quarter-finals, the winner to play Rafael Nadal.
Soderling, having won three titles this year, has stretched his lead over Murray in the world rankings to 335 points, though the Scot now has a good chance to overhaul the world No 4. Soderling has 720 points to defend in Indian Wells and Miami, which begins the week after next, while Murray has just 190.
Most of the top women are also competing in Indian Wells. Britain's Elena Baltacha is through to the second round – after victory over Roberta Vinci – and faces Flavia Pennetta.
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