Photo credit: Reem Abulleil (c)
Andy Murray is feeling positive about his physical state despite the straight sets loss he suffered at the hands of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Abu Dhabi on Thursday night.
Playing for the first time since last September, after which he underwent back surgery, the world No4 was eager to see how his body would react in real match conditions and while the Scot appeared to struggle on serve at times, he feels he moved well enough for his first outing of the season.
“I thought I moved well in the first set, once I got into the rallies I moved well so that was pleasing. I didn’t feel slow at all in the first set,” said Murray after his 7-5, 6-3 defeat.
“Second set maybe I slowed down slightly but that’s something that’s going to get better by playing matches. I can’t expect to feel great for long periods of matches when I haven’t played for a while.
“I think I moved pretty well, I just need to be able to do it over longer periods. I hit some big serves, I haven’t lost any power on my serve. I just felt like I haven’t played a match for a while but my body felt reasonably good.”
Tsonga, also returning from injury, appeared to have fully recovered from his knee problems which forced him out of the US Open a few months ago, as the Frenchman exploded onto the court, firing huge serves and charging the net any chance he got, which didn’t allow Murray to find his rhythm.
“Playing in front of a crowd and playing at that intensity, I’m playing against - he’s a very big server, he comes to the net. So it’s a lot of quick movements, changing direction, that’s just things that will get better with playing matches. I’ve trained a lot, I’ve practiced a lot but it’s very different when you get on the match court,” added Murray.
The world No4 explained he isn’t taking anti-inflammatories and will not work on his body too much tonight to see how he feels on Friday, where he takes on Stanislas Wawrinka in the fifth-place playoff.
“It’s actually best for me to try and not do too much recovery just now so when I wake up in the morning how everything feels. So I won’t do loads tonight and see how it feels in the morning,” said Murray.
The Wimbledon champion says the focus now is to get enough match play ahead of the Australian Open and he revealed he will be playing both singles and doubles in Doha next week, partnering Nenad Zimonjic.
He says the forced break from tennis gave him a chance to stay home and spend time with family but he realized he missed the grind of the tour as well.
“I feel fresher. It is an 11-month season, we do a lot of travelling, but when you’re just playing you get a bit tired of being away and being at hotels and airports but when you’re away for a few months you realize that you enjoy that. I’ve been doing it my whole life and I miss it. I’m happy to be back,” said the 26-year-old from Scotland.
Photo courtesy of the MWTC
Meanwhile, Tsonga says he felt good physically and was happy with every aspect of his game. It was the Frenchman’s first ever win in three appearances in Abu Dhabi and he says he was happy with how the crowd reacted to his aggressive game.
“Today I was happy with everything. It’s not easy because the court is really quick so it’s tough to play from the baseline so I chose to play offensive, I just played good tennis because it’s not every day you beat Andy in two sets, so it was a good match,” said Tsonga, who faces Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals on Friday.
The earlier match saw David Ferrer beat Stanislas Wawrinka, the man the Spaniard had lost to in his final match of the 2013 season. Ferrer was down a break in the first set but ran away with nine straight games to open up a 7-5, 5-0 lead and never looked back. Ferrer faces world No1 Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals on Friday.