Andy Murray - Miami Open 2023

Andy Murray ‘doesn’t think Sunday start will change late finishes’ at Australian Open

Andy Murray has revealed that he is ‘enjoying it better’ after admitting his frustrations towards the end of 2023, as the former No.1 gave his verdict on the ATP’s attempt at preventing late finishes.

Murray has played only one official ATP match so far this year, losing in three sets to eventual champion Grigor Dimitrov in Brisbane.

However, the British No.3 has also played two exhibition matches this week against fellow Grand Slam champions at the Kooyong Classic.

Murray lost to the returning Marin Cilic on Wednesday, before beating Dominic Thiem in straight sets on Thursday in Melbourne.

And the three-time Grand Slam champion has spoken about how he is feeling ahead of the first major of the year, “I definitely feel like I’m enjoying it better. I think part of that is obviously, it’s the mental side of it. Tennis is a difficult game in that respect. When you’re struggling, you’re obviously out there on your own, it can be difficult at times. Part of it is that.”

He continued, “Also the way you’re playing. When you know you’re capable of doing more than what you are, if you’re not happy with the way you’re hitting forehands and backhands and serving and those sorts of things, there’s the technical aspect as well.

“Fixing some of those problems has helped me feel better on the court. Definitely some focus on the mental side, as well. Reframing the way you look at things definitely, definitely helps. But no, I won’t be out there giggling on the court. That won’t be happening.”

Murray struggled for form in the latter stages of the 2023 season, winning only one of his last six matches, and the 36-year-old revealed how he is going to deal with things differently this year, drawing comparisons to ‘the big three’.

“It’s more about how you’re dealing with frustration and disappointment and everything when you’re playing,” explained Murray. “I don’t see Novak [Djokovic] out there when he’s playing his matches laughing and joking around. I never saw that with Roger [Federer] and Rafa [Nadal]. It’s not about that.

“It’s probably how you’re treating yourself in those moments and being a bit kinder to yourself, the people around you, lowering some of your own expectations, controlling what you can control. All of the players will sit in here and say exactly the same thing.”

Murray added, “It’s just not that easy to do it when you’re out there competing. That’s the hard part, yeah, just to focus on the next shot, the next point. It’s a very easy thing to say. We all know it. But doing it is difficult. When I was younger, I obviously always got frustrated on the court, but I always felt like in the really important moments, I was always competing very well. Last year I was getting frustrated, I was not competing well in the important moments. That’s something that I hope to change this year.”

This year, the Australian Open will begin on Sunday for the first time in history, with the tournament following Roland Garros in a bid to prevent late night finishes.

Late finishes were something that heavily affected Murray at the Australian Open last year, with the Scot finishing his second round at 4:05am after playing his longest ever match against Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Despite this move by the tournament, Murray does not seem convinced by how effective it is going to be, “I don’t think the Sunday start will change the late finishes. I think on Centre Court they’re having two matches in the day, two matches in the evening.

“I think that will reduce the possibility for late finishes on Rod Laver because it’s unlikely you’re going to have issues with the day session running into the night, then having that gap where they have to clear out the stadium and get the night session fans in.”

As well as the Australian Open making changes in order to reduce late finishes, the ATP and WTA have also announced this week that they will be collaborating for the same purpose.

The world No.44 believes this is a ‘positive’ move, “I think we probably just need to see how it works out. I think it’s really positive that they’re trying to make a change. Yeah, let’s see.

“I think that’s the main thing, is that there’s sort of an acceptance now that, yes, this is probably we need to do something to address it, and they made changes to try to do that. Yeah, this is a good step. I think the players will be happy with it. Hopefully it works well.”

Murray will begin his 16th Australian Open campaign against 30th seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry, who he has a head-to-head of 1-1 with, in a match that will take place on Monday.

Inside the baseline…

Andy Murray is obviously nearing the end of his career, with the potential that 2024 could even be his final year on the ATP Tour. With that being said, the want for the Brit to have a final deep run at a major tournament is greater than ever for his fans, with Murray’s best Grand Slam result last year reaching the third round of the Australian Open. Murray definitely has the game to beat Tomas Martin Etcheverry, with the potential of playing top seed Novak Djokovic in the third round.

READ MORE: ATP and WTA Tours combine with ‘strategic review’

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.