By Ros Satar, in Cincinnati
- Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and two-time Cincinnati champion Andy Murray talked about his Olympic experiences with the press on Tuesday
- Starts his campaign (weather permitting) on Wednesday
CINCINNATI, USA – Andy Murray arrived from Rio in the midst of a day beset with rain delays as he gears up for the US Open, talking to reporters about what it meant to become a double Olympic Medalist.
The inclusion of Rio in the schedule made it a tough, and in some cases extremely busy, hard court summer with two time Cincinnati champion Murray deciding to take a long break after winning his second Wimbledon title and third Slam title overall.
His decision to skip the Canada Masters in Toronto was a good one – he looked to be coasting through his medal defence until he hit the unique and unpredictable stylings of Fabio Fognini.
There taken to three sets by the mercurial Italian, and again in the following round by Steve Johnson, not to mention a compelling medal final between him and Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro, and the semi final between the Argentine and Rafael Nadal – tennis was firmly put on the Olympic map as a sport worthy of its inclusion.
There had been a lot of stick for both Golf and Tennis in the run up to the Olympics, but Murray added his voice to those who felt that it absolutely had a right to be there.
He told reporters at the Western & Southern Open: “I really hope tennis stays being part of the Olympics. Every Olympics I’ve been to I’ve absolutely loved it. Beijing obviously didn’t go as well on the court as I would’ve liked, but I had an amazing experience there as well.
“I think like when you look at the crowds and stuff for the semis and the finals, the atmospheres were incredible. Rafa’s match with Del Potro, and I think the final at times the tennis wasn’t great, but I think the passion and effort that both of us gave in the final shows how much it meant to both of us.”
Of course many players pulled out, some concerned with the potential effects of the Zika virus, others through scheduling concerns or injury, resulting in just five of the Top 10 and 10 of the then Top 20 opted to compete on the men’s side.
Murray said: “It’s unfortunate that not all tennis players have maybe seen it that way. But I hope that some of them maybe after watching the Olympics regret their decision not to go. Next time they’ll have a great, great turnout again, which there was in London.
“I know some of the players had worries about Zika, but I bet if you ask Justin Rose how he feels right now, he feels unbelievable, unbelievably proud and so happy that he did it.”
Of course the big difference is that for London, which followed just a couple of weeks from that year’s Wimbledon championships was in a different place in the calendar and its location and the allocation of rankings points made a difference.
Take away the points and it is the prestige of playing for one’s country and for being a part of something far bigger. Fans had the chance to see players team up with combinations they may not always see on the tour in the doubles and mixed doubles, and Nadal had even suggested that it should be longer.
Murray agreed, saying: “[It] comes around once every four years. I think it’s huge for tennis to be part of the Olympics. It’s such a huge event to showcase our sport around the whole world. I think, [it] should be a little bit longer and find a way to work that into the schedule.”
Murray v either Ivo Karlovic or Juan Monaco
The rain has stymied the start of this tournament, all the way back to the qualifying rounds, with many of the top seeds having come from Rio looking likely to start their campaigns on Wednesday.
Murray has always had the measure of the big serving Karlovic. Taking each match as an exercise in textbook returning, not to mention sharpening up on tie-break practice has been the norm in their match-ups and Karlovic has yet to get the better of the Brit in seven attempts so far.
Monaco, using the benefit of his protected ranking is coming back after a long lay off because of a right wrist injury. He had surgery almost exactly a year ago which sidelined him for the rest of the 2015 season, and through the Australian Open this year. Add to that back, shoulder and hip injuries, and it is a long way back for the Argentine.
Murray leads their head to head 4-2, having beaten him the last two times they played, including an easy victory in Rio.
On paper, neither of these players should stand in the Brit’s way, but the fatigue factor of getting two and from Rio, and the prospect of reaching every final of a Slam this year in New York must be somewhere in Murray’s mind.
Prediction: Murray to advance to the third round.
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