Weight room keeps Murray in shape for Games gold

Boosted by his Masters triumph, the world No 6 is banking on gym work to lift him to higher glory

It will not be the ideal way to prepare for an Olympic Games. Having played nine matches in 12 days in draining heat and humidity, Andy Murray was due to arrive back in London this morning after an overnight flight from Cincinnati.

Tomorrow he will board a flight to Beijing – via a stopover in Helsinki – before arriving here on Thursday, just three days before the start of the tennis tournament.

Not that Murray minds paying the price of success, having enjoyed the biggest victory of his career with his 7-6, 7-6 win over Novak Djokovic in the final of the Cincinnati Masters on Sunday. Speaking on the telephone before heading for home, he said last night: "I'd rather be in this position than going to Beijing early after losing in the first round. Of course, ideally I'd like to have more time to relax and get used to the venue and the whole Olympic atmosphere, but I'll just have to deal with it."

Murray's first Masters Series title, following his run to the semi-finals in the previous week's event in Toronto, took the 21-year-old Scot to No 6 in the world rankings, his highest ever position.

He will start as one of the favourites to win Olympic gold alongside the two other form players of recent weeks, Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. The only top 10 player absent from a highly competitive field is Andy Roddick, who wants to concentrate on the US Open.

The conditions will be extremely testing, but Murray copes with heat and humidity better than most. Both were major factors in Cincinnati, but the British No 1 never wilted in a final that lasted two hours and 23 minutes and featured many lengthy rallies.

"I've been playing a lot of matches, but right now I feel fine both physically and mentally," Murray said. "The humidity this week was unbelievable. It was well over 100 degrees out on court yesterday.

"I've played well in these conditions this week, but they're not conditions that you would want to play in all the time. It's tough after matches to make sure you're properly hydrated and eating the right sort of food. You can lose quite a lot of weight playing in those conditions.

"The humidity gets to your breathing a little bit and gets you out of breath a lot. Obviously, you sweat more, which makes you feel more tired."

Asked where he found his mental strength, Murray said: "It comes from training and the gym work that you do off the court, because that eliminates all your possible excuses.

"You go on the court in great shape, doing the right things, because you've been doing the right things off the court. You get on the court thinking about tennis, not worrying whether you've practised enough or done enough work in the gym. I feel much better physically."

It would be hard to overstate the significance of Murray's Cincinnati success. There are nine Masters series tournaments, which are one level down from the Grand Slam events, and he is the first Briton to win one since Tim Henman in Paris five years ago.

The fact that Murray beat Djokovic, who was sweeping all before him earlier this year, will reinforce his confidence. Until last month the Australian Open champion had won all four of his meetings with his friend and rival from their days on the junior circuit and brushed him aside for the loss of only four games in Monte Carlo less than four months ago.

Murray's win on Sunday, however, came just a week after his first victory over the Serb. "Once you've beaten someone for the first time you have the feeling you can do it again," Murray said. "It also gets into the head of the other player when they've beaten you a few times and then you've broken that run."

In Saturday's semi-finals Djokovic had ended Nadal's 32-match winning run with a vibrant attacking game, but Murray offered stiffer resistance. His returns had been effective throughout the tournament, helping him to break serve 19 times in 52 games over the week. Djokovic regularly struggled to hold his serve in the first set before Murray won the tie-break with something to spare.

Having broken back to 2-2 in the second set, Murray served for the match at 5-3 only to squander four match points as Djokovic went on to force another tie-break.

The Scot eventually converted his sixth match point. Murray has shown in the past that he has the game to beat the best, but has often failed to perform consistently on the biggest stages.

However, he said that his recent back-from-the-dead Wimbledon win over Richard Gasquet, which took him into his first Grand Slam quarter-final, had been a key to building his confidence.

The Briton's main goal, to be seeded in the top eight for the US Open in three weeks' time, has been achieved and he is now looking forward to the Olympic experience. "I can't wait," said Murray, who will also partner his brother Jamie in the doubles.

"Quite a few of the tennis players are staying in hotels but I don't understand why they're doing that. Having made the decision to play in the Olympics, I wouldn't want to be staying anywhere other than in the athletes' village. It will be a great experience to be around the best athletes in the world and to speak to some of them."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
The monkey made several attempts to revive his friend before he regained consciousness
video
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
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.

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick