Ambitious Andy Murray not satisfied with year, and aims to hit heights in 2010
Published Date: 04 December 2009
By Moira Gordon
THE Scottish dark nights are one thing but as he refocuses on a new season, Andy Murray is envisaging far brighter days.
• Andy Murray with Maya Cooper, a pupil at Glasgow's Broomhill Primary School,
where he was supporting the RBS Supergrounds scheme. Picture: PA
He sets off for Miami at the end of this week and says it is a combination of the dreich British winters and his desire to cement his place at the top of the world rankings that is driving him away from his family over the festive period.
The Sunshine State has been his preferred venue for close-season training over the past few years but this year he won't be punctuating the stay with a trip back to Britain. Instead, the intention is to spend Christmas in Miami and then head straight to Melbourne.
The new season starts with the Australian Open in January and after tasting the highs of a world No 2 ranking in August, he is determined to scale the ATP table again and knows the best way to do that is win one of the four grand slam events.
Appearing at Broomhill Primary School, where he was supporting the RBS Supergrounds scheme, he was coy about what he wanted for Christmas but it would seem he is far clearer when it comes to his resolutions for the upcoming year. "I got to No2 in the world (in 2009] which is the highest I have ever been in the rankings. I won more tournaments than I did the previous year and my consistency was way better but the difference in the rankings is winning a grand slam. That is much more easily said than done but I think I have a chance of doing it next year.
"Last year I came home for Christmas so that meant I was in the warm weather for three weeks, would come back and be cold four or five days and then I headed to a warm-up tournament in Doha in the hot. I was getting to Australia the week before the Australian Open started. Now I will be heading to Australia earlier to become used to the conditions."
Now 23, he says he has always believed that he would deliver his best tennis between now and the age of 26 and wants to prove it. In the past 12 months, he not only became the first player in four years to end the Roger Federer/Rafael Nadal duopoly at the top of the world rankings, he also won his highest number of tour titles – six. Only Novak Djokovic and Nadal could equal the number of wins he accumulated in tour level matches but to leapfrog them he knows the likelihood is that he will also have to join their exclusive club of grand slam winners.
"This year went well. There were certain things I would have liked to have done better but in the tennis season, you cannot really look at one tennis tournament here or there. It is 11 months long and you need to focus on the year as a whole and that went very well. Obviously, I will try to do better next year and that is one of the reasons I am spending Christmas in Miami. That is to make sure I am in the best shape possible going into the grand slams."
Throughout 2009 he improved on or matched his best ever showings in three of the four slams, showing greater consistency in reaching the latter stages. In Melbourne he progressed to the fourth round for only the second time in his career, while Roland Garros and Wimbledon represented improvement as he reached the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.
"Within tennis there is obviously an ambition to (win one], but there are a lot more things to worry about other than just a grand slam. I am going to work as hard as I can and dedicate my time to it as much as possible. If it happens it happens, but if it does not I feel like I am giving it my best shot and working as hard as I can. If I am good enough to win one, then I will do it. If I am not, then I won't. But I will try my best."
Talking up the current state of Scottish tennis, citing the return to form of British No1 Elena Baltacha as well as his own standing as proof of valuable role models in the women's and men's game, he said the continued improvement of Colin Fleming, breaking into the world top 50 in the doubles, was also a boost to tennis in this country. "My brother (Jamie] did not have his best year but the last couple of months were a lot better for him and hopefully he will be back to playing his best next year."
Murray will be doing his best to ensure he has the best foundation on which to build. "He is coming out to train with me in Miami for the first time which will be good."
But in the grand scheme of things, it's not good the world No4 is aiming for. This is a guy who wants to be great and he is willing to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve that. Even if that does mean spending Christmas away from home.