By Ros Satar

Murray gears up for Madrid by practicing with Nadal & Djokovic

  • Defending champion Murray looking for high level play this week
  • Has a lot more belief on the clay after solid run last year

MADRID, SPAIN – Defending champion Andy Murray has been putting in the hours practicing with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to help sharpen up ahead of his title defence.

Murray, who had originally planned to head to Barcelona again for his clay court preparation got some time in with Nadal in Mallorca, after a run to the semi-finals where he pushed the Spaniard to three sets.

He explained: “I was going to go to Barcelona originally. That’s where I went last year to train. But then obviously the best practice you can get possible for me was to go there and get to practice with two guys that are in the top 10 and obviously one of the best clay court — probably the best clay court player of all-time. That was the best practice and preparation I could get, so that was why I decided to go there.”

The options for clay court practice vary, not only with the climate but altitude or sea level too, which makes preparation for the sometimes cloying and heavy conditions on the clay of Paris hard to prepare for.

“It depends really on the weather. Like the last few years the weather has been very up and down. Sometimes very cold in the first week and then by the end very hot.

“That totally changes the way the court plays. You know, I think if it was 25 degrees at all of the tournaments the next few weeks, I would say that Monte-Carlo and the French would probably be the same. Rome is also a little bit closer because it’s at sea level.

“Yeah, really depends a lot on the conditions, and the balls at the French can be quite fast, too, so it’s tough to tell.”

Murray made no secret of the fact that his preparation last year focused around very adept clay court players, but admitted that practicing with the rest of the Big Five or even Top 10 saw a change in how much he can get away with!

“It’s a different intensity for sure. The whole practice isn’t sort of on your own terms. If I’m playing with someone who I’m much better than, then you can dictate most of the points. You can get away with things that when I play against Novak or Rafa I don’t get away with.

“So it gives me a better understanding of the things that I need to work on, the things that need to get better, because lesser players wouldn’t be able to exploit your weaknesses as much as the best players in the world.

“That’s why it’s great to practice with them. It was very cold back home as well, so to get in some warm conditions, which normally here it’s probably going to heat up the next few days and can get very hot at the French and Rome as well, was important for me.”

Murray finds himself the sole Brit male in the singles draw, with British No. 2 Aljaz Bedene next scheduled for the Rome Qualifying rounds and Kyle Edmund is the second seed in the Rome Challenger.

Murray receives a bye into the second round, and play will resume at the Madrid Masters at 11am (10am BST).

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