Muscular Andy Murray tells Australian media: I'm not too big for my shirt

British No 1 insists the focus on his physique is misplaced despite his intense fitness regime

There is one major question about Andy Murray that appears to be dominating some sections of the media here at the Australian Open.

It is not whether he is happy with his first serve percentage, whether he can become the first player in the Open era to follow up his maiden Grand Slam title with a second, or even whether he thinks Gordon Strachan is the right man to manage Scotland ("We'll have to wait and see how he does," Murray said yesterday). No, the burning question is whether the world No 3 has become too big for his shirt.

Murray has been wearing tight-fitting shirts supplied by Adidas. On a day when the temperature peaked at 40C, perspiration made Murray's shirt cling to him more than ever during his resounding 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 victory yesterday over Portugal's Joao Sousa, which earned a third-round meeting tomorrow with Ricardas Berankis.

Asked after the match whether he would not be more comfortable wearing older-style baggy shirts, Murray said: "The only thing I don't like on shirts is if they come down too low and sometimes your elbows can get caught in the shirt. The less material there is on the shirt I think probably the better. There's less to get in the way. But so long as they're tailored somewhat, I think there's no real problem."

Murray shows little interest in on-court fashion ("I let Adidas decide those things – I just play") and insisted that any impression that he was broader across the chest as a result of his training was misleading.

"Most of the weight that I put on is in my legs, but the T-shirt I'm wearing is tighter," he said. "It's not that I'm any bigger in my upper body. It's just because of the tightness of the T-shirt. Maybe it appears that way."

However, there is no doubt that the modern game has become more physically demanding and that players are stronger. Novak Djokovic beat Murray in a semi-final here last year that lasted nearly five hours and overcame Rafael Nadal in a near six-hour final two days later.

Murray believes that Nadal played a big part in changing the way that players look. "Rafa was the first one to have that physique that looked like a true world-class athlete across any sport," Murray said. "Tennis players are always in good shape, but I think he looked like he could do any sport.

"The game has changed for sure physically. It's much more demanding and I've adapted my preparation and training. Reducing the amount of tournaments I play and spending more time getting myself ready for events is the best way to prepare. Still not everybody does that, but I believe that's the best way to go about it, spending more time in the gym in the off-season."

The Australian newspaper yesterday revisited comments by Christophe Rochus, a retired Belgian player, who has made allegations of drug abuse in tennis. "The guys can't play five or six hours and then come back the next day and run around like a rabbit," Rochus was quoted as saying. Murray rejected his claims.

"I would say that is far from the truth," he said. "Anyone can see the amount of hours of training and practice that go into what we do and there are other sports that are far more challenging than tennis endurance-wise. When guys play five or six hours in the Slams, like we often do, we have a day's rest.

"I was told that on his day off after our match here last year Novak didn't practise, didn't hit a ball, didn't get out of bed until three o'clock. Providing you put the work in it doesn't mean it hurts any less when you have to play a couple of days later after a five-hour match but I would not say it's impossible."

On a scorching afternoon yesterday Murray never looked troubled by the heat. He thoroughly outclassed Sousa, winning in an hour and 41 minutes. The Scot broke serve five times and did not have to defend a single break point.

Murray's next opponent is one of those players attempting to prove that bigger does not necessarily mean better. Berankis is only 5ft 9in tall, but the 22-year-old Lithuanian packs a decent punch. Having played three matches in qualifying, he has won five matches here for the loss of just one set. He claimed his biggest scalp yesterday, beating Florian Mayer, the world No 28, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1.

A former world junior No 1 who was invited to train with Roger Federer in Dubai three years ago, Berankis was Lithuania's key player in their historic Davis Cup victory over Britain in 2010. He is currently world No 110 after two seasons which were disrupted by a groin injury.

Murray, who has practised several times with Berankis, said: "He hits the ball pretty big from the back of the court. He plays aggressive. He's a very flat hitter of the ball. He's obviously playing well to beat a guy like Mayer that comfortably."

While Murray can be expected to wear the same shirt tomorrow, he will not be changing to the shorter style shorts which some players have been wearing here.

"I actually wore a pair at Wimbledon when I was with Fred Perry that were short, though not quite like what Ivan [Lendl] and those guys used to wear," he said. "I can't see a return to them, to be honest. They were a bit too short. They didn't leave too much to the imagination."

Suggested Topics
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.

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor