By Ros Satar, in Madrid
- Murray arrives having won the title in 2015 and reached the final last year losing to Novak Djokovic
- Has high expectations for the clay court season
- Offered his take on the Djokovic split
- Johanna Konta’s campaign ends in the early hours of Sunday at the hands of Stuttgart champion Laura Siegemund
MADRID, SPAIN – The points start to rack up for Andy Murray as he defends his run to the final here last year as he overcomes an elbow injury, while Johanna Konta still searches for her first win in Madrid.
More matches in Barcelona ‘would have been perfect’
Andy Murray was upbeat in his pre-tournament press in Madrid, after the rain in Spain centred mainly on Barcelona last week. He arrives to make a tilt for a third title at the Magic Box, after losing out to Novak Djokovic last year. It followed a breakout year for the Brit on clay in 2015 where he scooped the titles in Munich and Madrid, the latter defeating Rafael Nadal on home turf, or rather more accurately dirt.
He said, of his wildcard last week: “Barcelona went really well for me. Obviously got three matches in three days. It would have been nice, obviously, to have played an extra one or two. It would have been perfect.
“I had the long match with Ramos on the Friday. It was like three hours. Then to come out and play again the next day, you know, I actually felt pretty good. I played some decent stuff there. Obviously could have been a bit better. But practice here the last few days has been very good. I’m happy with how I’m playing. I’m starting to move better, feel like I served well the last few days, which is an important part of my game.”
Like many he was taken aback by the surprise announcement from Djokovic that he was parting company with his entire coaching team in the lead up to the defence of his French Open title.
He said: “Obviously for us, it appears like it’s all of a sudden. Maybe it’s been something that has been discussed for a while. You just don’t know.
“What I will say, though, it is difficult traveling. It’s great in some ways, but it’s also difficult traveling with the same person or same people for 10, 11, 12 years. It’s very rare nowadays to see teams or coaching relationships last that long, just because of how intense it is. A lot of traveling, a lot of time away from families. You’re spending a lot of hours in the day together
“But, you know, rather than seeing it as a negative thing, it’s been obviously a very successful relationship he’s had with all of those guys. I’m sure they parted on very good terms. See what Novak’s next moves are.”
‘Expectations are high’
There are lot of points on the line over the rest of the clay court season, and obviously on to the grass.
Murray outlined: “Expectations are high. I want to do well the next few weeks. In many ways, it’s the most important part of the year. There’s a lot of big tournaments that come very quickly, one after the other.
“Obviously, you know, the grass court season is always an important period of the year for me. But, yeah, I’m motivated. My expectations are high for the next few months. I’m looking forward to it.”
Johanna Konta bows out in the opening round
The Madrid Open has a unique approach to its scheduling, not unlike having a siesta and then coming out full bore late in the evening to party all night long. Unfortunately the day was beset with a run of long three set matches, which saw Johanna Konta and Laura Siegemund take to the court around 10 minutes shy of midnight, and finish a tough three setter around 2:45am.
It was hardly ideal for the Brit who had already been pounded in the fast-format Tie Break Tens exhibition match earlier in the week. Siegemund had excelled on the swift slick indoor clay in Stuttgart and the altitude helps the ball fly quick, so it was always going to be an uphill struggle for the World No. 7.
The slower clay might be a better bet for her on Rome, where she reached the third round last year.
Murray receives a bye into the second round, and play continues on Monday, starting at 12pm (11am BST).
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