Tennis: Murray longs to play against Nadal and Djokovic again

AFP , Saturday 30 Dec 2023

Andy Murray conceded Saturday he longed for the chance to play again on the big stage against superstars Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

Britain s Andy Murray attends a training session ahead of the Brisbane International. Photo: AFP


Speaking ahead of the season-opening Brisbane International, the 36-year-old said he missed the days when he regularly met Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer at the business end of major tournaments.

Murray matched it with the big three for a decade between 2006-16 before a run of injuries resulted in time off court and a slide in his ranking.

While the others powered on to title after title, the Scotsman, now ranked 42, was forced to battle his way back, his career never reaching its former heights.

The last time he met Nadal was in the semi-finals of the Madrid Masters in 2016 and while he played Djokovic in the Madrid Masters last year, he had not met him since 2017 before that.

"Obviously I would like the opportunity to play against them again, ideally in the latter stages of big tournaments," Murray said.

"That's something that obviously I've missed, that feeling, not had that opportunity really.

"If I get the opportunity to practise with them, I still really, really enjoy that.

"It does bring back some good memories, but ideally, I'd want to be doing that in the tournaments, not in the first rounds."

Murray has been practising with Nadal in Brisbane as the Spaniard makes his comeback after almost 12 months away with injury.

He said Nadal was moving well and showing no signs of the hip injury that forced him off tour after the 2023 Australian Open.

Murray also said Nadal appeared to have made only minor changes to his game in his time away from the tour.

"His second serve is significantly harder than what he did earlier in his career," Murray said.

"But yeah, the rest of the game, unless there's a physical issue, there's not really much reason for him to make huge changes to that -- it's been pretty successful.

"When he's fit and healthy, that game style is what has worked really, really well for him, looking for his forehand, trying to dominate with that shot.

"If he wants to be successful in the future, that's what he should be looking to do. That's how he was trying to play today."

Murray takes on second-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in the first round, a rematch of the 2013 Brisbane International final which Murray won in two close sets.

Dimitrov won their last encounter at this year's US Open.

"I need to play really well, certainly much better than there, if I want to get through it," Murray said.

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