After reaching finals in Madrid and Rome, Andy Murray played 10 sets in his first two Roland Garros victories. Will we have enough in the tank to win his first French Open?
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A. MURRAY/R. Stepanek
3-6, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3, 7-5
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. What do you think about this match in five sets?
ANDY MURRAY: It was obviously an extremely difficult match, very tricky, challenging. Today was pretty, you know, stressful. Kind of an hour and a half I think we were on the court, something like that. And, yeah. It’s never easy playing a match over two days. Especially when it ended up kind of being just a one-set shootout really in the end, with him always ahead and starting serving. You know, I was having chances and not getting them. Then I was always having to play from behind. So it was very tough.
Q. You have been in this situation before both of having to come back from two sets down and also, you know, having to play over two days. How much does that help?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I mean, it can help, yeah, in terms of knowing, you know, how to get yourself ready for the match, but also it’s still not easy. It’s extremely difficult. You know, especially first round, a match that I’m really expected to win, you have the momentum at the time when you stop. You know, I was actually starting to play quite well, and then, yeah, I have to come out the next day again and do it against a very tough opponent who has a very unorthodox game. Makes it very tricky. So, yeah, it was not easy at all.
Q. Can you talk about yesterday and the first two sets in particular. I mean, he was obviously playing extremely well. But did you feel you were a bit slow out of the blocks?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah. I mean, I think, you know — yeah, obviously I didn’t start as well as I would have liked, for sure. Yesterday was a tricky day. And a few days also before kind of getting ready for the tournament, because of the conditions and the rain, you know, was a good chance we maybe weren’t going to play yesterday, either.
Then, you know, you start off late, and you’re aware that if it goes long that maybe, you know, you don’t get the chance to finish. You know, I maybe put a little bit of extra pressure on myself at the beginning, which maybe didn’t help. And then, you know, because of the way the court’s playing, it’s extremely heavy. It’s very difficult to sort of push guys back. You know, players are hitting the ball I think relatively flat. It’s not playing like, you know, a true clay court right now because of how heavy it is. You know, he was stepping into the ball and coming forward, dictating a lot of points. I couldn’t get the ball out of his strike zone at the beginning. Thankfully managed to turn that around, but it obviously wasn’t the best start.
Q. Today and in many of your matches you have this incredible rapport with your box, they’re standing up, they’re shouting loud, they’re backing you at all points. Talk about that energy, that interaction. Does it help you in some way? Does it break down sort of the isolation you feel out there on court? Could you just talk about that?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I think in matches like today, it’s an extremely important match for me. You know, it could turn out to be one of the biggest wins of my career, which, you know, it may not, also, but to get through that match, it was really, really important for me. And it easily could have gone the other way. When it is, like I said, pretty much one set, you know, to stay in the tournament, you have to have as much energy, intensity as you can. You know, I’m glad that my team’s right behind me in situations like that.
Q. Third set last night stood out. You changed your shirt. You seemed to change your mentality. You had a completely different mindset for that period. How did you get there and how easy is it to get back there again?
ANDY MURRAY: I don’t know if it was just the mindset that was different, to be honest. I mean, you can have a great mindset and hit the ball badly, you know, but I needed to try to step up the court a little bit more. I was way too far behind the baseline in the first couple of sets and kind of realized that if I didn’t do that, get myself further up the court, I’d be out of the tournament. So, you know, then once I got a break up and was 3-Love up, I was like starting to free up a little bit, started to go for my shots a little bit more, started to increase my intensity a little bit. Like I said, the third and fourth sets I actually played pretty good. Obviously today was tough. It wasn’t the best tennis. I didn’t expect it to be pretty today, but I just wanted to get through. But there was some positive stuff in that middle period of the match.
Q. Were you disappointed by the comments that Amelie made about you in the press? Was that in any way a distraction over the previous few days?
ANDY MURRAY: I’m kind of willing to talk about this, providing that everyone’s fair about it, because me and Amelie have a very good relationship, and I don’t think it’s fair to try to say otherwise. You know, I did an interview before the tournament, before anything that Amelie had said had come out. And the last two days was supposedly that I was hitting back at Amelie’s comments and disagreeing with everything that she said and that we had a really tough breakup. That simply is not true. When we sat down in Madrid, we had — anyone who said it’s heated is lying and was not there. It was far from heated. We spoke very calmly the whole time. And, you know, to say that the reason that we stopped working together is because of my behavior on the court, that is not true. We, in Madrid when we spoke, we didn’t discuss that one time. So that isn’t true. For sure, when we were working together, we discussed many things on the court, and there was times when, like with all of my coaches, they said, you know, You need to concentrate more on the match. Stop directing your frustration at the box and being distracted from what’s going on on the court. But to say that that’s why we stopped working together is untrue. Me and Amelie do have a good relationship. Obviously what’s happened the last few days has been difficult, because I didn’t have a chance to talk about it or respond or, you know, anything. I don’t know if the guy I did the interview with, I don’t know if he’s in here or not, but I certainly was not — what I said about my on-court behavior was not in response to what came out. I didn’t even know that — the article hadn’t even come out when I answered those questions. Yeah. That’s basically it.
Q. Have you had a chance to talk to her about it since that came out?
ANDY MURRAY: Matt, who — he’s sitting over there. He’s chatted to her. She sent me a message a couple of days ago. And, yeah, I’m sure we’ll see each other here at some stage. The last two days for me have been pretty busy. But, yeah. Me and Amelie have a good relationship. We certainly didn’t fall out. And that is not true. And I have always been, I think, tried to be quite honest and open about things. That’s what was most disappointing for me is that the reason we stopped working together, we discussed it in Madrid, and what was said at the time was the fact that we literally are spending hardly any time together in a three-month period right before major events coming up. And she was not able to help me during that period. That’s what happened.
Q. Radek is over 37 years old. There is as many 30-year-olds as ever in the main draw in Paris. What do you think? Why is that?
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, I don’t know exactly why more players are doing better later. You know, potentially like looking at something like Radek, then I think people start to see that and think, you know, I don’t need to stop playing when I’m 31, 32. You know, guys like Agassi obviously played late. Roger has been at the top of the game late. Maybe the players are taking better care of themselves now postmatches, spending more time in the gym looking after their bodies, as well. That’s possible. But, yeah. I thought there was maybe 50 players that are over 30, yeah. Which is amazing, really. There are a lot of guys only 29, as well. Like my year with Novak, too. So I expect that trend to continue, really.
Q. It’s not easy being a world-class, elite-level athlete, not easy being No. 2 in the world in any endeavor. AmÃ©lie said you were a complex person. Is that something you agree with? Is that something you’re proud of in your own way? Just your thoughts on that.
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, away from the court, probably not. On the court, yeah. When I’m losing I get very frustrated, you know. When I’m winning, obviously I’m happier. I don’t know if that is — I don’t know if that’s complex or not. It’s actually quite simple, to me, anyway. You know, it’s something that, like I said, you know, the other day, I have worked, continued to try to work on that side of things on the court. You know, sometimes it can be frustrating for me when it’s sort of, I don’t know, saying, like that someone is necessarily complex or looking at the negative things. There is also, for me, some good things, as well. Some good attributes that I have on the court, too. I displayed them in abundance today, in my opinion, and yesterday. I fought extremely hard from a very, very difficult position. Yes, I was getting frustrated, but I gave everything to try to win today’s and yesterday’s match and got myself out of a situation that not all players would have been able to get themselves out of. So, you know, I fight through to the end in all of the matches. Yes, for sure I can make improvements on the court. No question about that. But I also do some good things, as well. You know, I need to sometimes balance that up a little bit.
A. MURRAY/M. Bourgue
6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. That must have been one of the most tense afternoons of your career. Was there any point in that match where you thought this could go horribly wrong?
ANDY MURRAY: It wasn’t as tense as my match against Radek for me yesterday. It was tougher coming out to play the fifth set. Yeah, I mean, today certainly wasn’t easy. I mean, you know, I lost my way on the court today, you know, for quite a while. So to turn it around and find a way to win after, you know, a period where I was struggling to win points at one stage, I was losing a lot of games at love. It felt like, you know — I mean, every time the ball was in the middle of the court he was hitting winners. I couldn’t see where his shots were going. Yeah, it was a big struggle. Yeah, managed to get the win.
Q. To spectators like us, it seems like players like you at the top, you have the extra gear to find somehow. Did you find it today? How does that work, if there is such a gear?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, I think, you know, obviously in terms of ranking just now, I’m 2 and he’s 160, I think, pretty much. You know, over the course of a long match like the periods where I’m having sort of down periods or if I’m not playing as well and my level drops a bit, you know, over the course of five sets normally, you know, the higher-ranked player can be a little bit more solid, a bit more consistent in the important moments. That wasn’t the case for all of the match today, but in the end, in the fifth set, that was the difference. I did come up with some good shots, some lucky shots as well today, for sure. I was a bit lucky also. Yeah, you have to back yourself, which for me today wasn’t easy, because I wasn’t hitting the ball well for a long period of the match.
Q. Sounds like you’re a bit disconcerted with what happened today. Was it an unusual feeling?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah. I mean, obviously doesn’t happen that often where you’re struggling to win points. You know, yeah, I managed to win the match. That’s what I’m here to do. I don’t want to play five sets every round and don’t want, you know, to have big drop-offs in matches. But I was trying. I was trying to find a way. It wasn’t like I was, you know, not there mentally, but I just couldn’t find the court. I was missing balls. You know, some of that actually — I mean, during the match it did — the court did speed up a lot. It was much, much quicker for a period when the sun was out, you know, for a period, which it hasn’t been at all pretty much since we have been here. I was missing a lot of balls long, and his ball was jumping up a lot, so during that period, I lost my way a bit. I don’t know if it was because of that. I don’t know. But, yeah, managed to get it back a little bit at the end.
Q. Obviously your opponent played outstandingly for a couple of sets there. You did seem unusually subdued, your body language and everything. Can you put your finger on why that was? Might it have been connected to the day before?
ANDY MURRAY: Potentially, yeah. Like I said, it was a pretty stressful couple of days. You know, coming back the next day and playing, it’s not easy. And a fifth set I played against Radek was tense, you know. But I didn’t start the match that way. Normally you would think that you would start the match off a little bit flatter. But, yeah, there was a period there where, yeah, I was a little bit flat. But I don’t know if that’s because I was missing balls. I couldn’t get myself into any rallies, and there wasn’t really much to get fired up about. So it was tough, but, you know, a lot of that is, you know, down to the way that he played, as well. I have never seen him play a match before, really, watched some video this morning, and, you know, he was really good, as well. You know, it’s not always my fault, but there was a period in the match where I was struggling, for sure.
Q. What do you think of this player?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I think — yeah, I didn’t know exactly what to expect, because I had only seen the one match that he played here in the first round. I watched some of the video of that match this morning. So I didn’t know his game particularly well. You know, he played I think very good. He served pretty well a high percentage throughout the match, good first-serve percentage. When he was dictating the points with his forehand he was very good moving around the ball around well. He didn’t miss too many backhands today, made some very good ones well. And he had good touch, a lot of good dropshots. When I used a dropshot I got a few points at the end of the match, but for the majority of that, that shot wasn’t working too well. And, yeah, he was good. I think physically he was good. He moved well. He was fast. So, yeah, I spoke to a couple of the French players, and they said that on clay he played pretty much the whole year on clay, and he’s very good on this surface.
Q. We all know you’re a great athlete. Are you a bit worried about all the hours you have already spent on the court and thinking about going all the way here?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, for sure. I have never — I think maybe once I have started a slam playing, you know, two five-set matches in the first couple of rounds. The positive is I play Karlovic in the next round, and physically, you know, the average rally length will only be a few shots, maybe three, four shots max. So that’s a positive there. You know, for sure, you know, tomorrow I will be tired. At least I get a day’s rest now. But, yeah, you can’t continue playing matches like that and then expect to win the tournament. So if I can get through the next one, it will be nice to win it a bit quicker.
Q. How long does it take to get two five-setters out of your system? Will there be a potential effect on next week if you get there?
ANDY MURRAY: I haven’t done it too often, but today’s match is physically a hard match. The match with Radek, I didn’t play five sets in — it wasn’t a five-set match. It was like playing two three-set matches on back-to-back days. So that, you know, we do that every single week in the Masters Series. We play, you know, a two-hour match and then the next day an hour and a half. I don’t know exactly how long we played with Radek, but, you know, that wasn’t too bad. But, yeah, today’s match obviously is tough. It’s three hours and a half, three hours, 40 minutes. And it wasn’t hot the whole way through, but there were some periods where it was warmer. And, yeah, can take time to recover from that.
Q. Do you recall the last time you went on a losing streak like that, if you like, or felt the same as that on court, if ever?
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, it happens sometimes, for sure. I mean, normally — well, I don’t even know how long a losing streak it was today, but I know in one of the sets I won like 11 or 12 points, which, you know, is not many points. There won’t be many sets in the year where that’s the case, so it’s fairly rare.
Q. True with Karlovic there will not be long rallies. Well, today he played 4 hours 31 minutes, 41 aces, 72 aces in two matches. You won six times against him, but eight times you had to play tiebreaker. So are you sure that the match will not last long?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, what’s hard for players is not necessarily the length of the match. It’s the physicality of the points that you play. You can spend five hours on the court, but if they’re not building up any lactic acid because you’re playing two-shot rallies, then that’s fine. You know, Mahut and Isner when they played at Wimbledon, they played for however many hours it was, but they’re playing two three-shot rallies. So, you know, mentally it’s tiring, but physically not so much. And normally against Ivo, the sets are very close. You know, plays a lot of tiebreaks because he’s so tough to break. But the points are not physically demanding, so that’s why I’m saying it’s not always easy to play against him, but right now I’d take that as positive.
Q. At the end there you were pointing to your chest as if to say, if nothing else, your heart was still in it. Was that what you were trying to convey? Was that to the crowd or was it your support team?
ANDY MURRAY: No, it was just to my team. I think, you know, showed a lot of heart the last few days and tough, tough matches, tough atmosphere today. Maybe not feeling or playing my best, but found a way to win. I said the other day I have positive qualities on the court, and that was one of them. And I have showed it the last couple of matches to get myself out of difficult situations, and that was it.
Q. You mentioned the box. How important were your cheer squad today? Mark Bender was up and screaming. At a particular point in the final set looked like a man possessed. How important were they again for you today?
ANDY MURRAY: I have never been asked so many questions about my box in my career. I feel like there is a reason for that. But, yeah, I mean, obviously in days like today when the crowd is totally against you, and, like, when you play in Davis Cup, as well, the team on the side are the ones that are there and wanting you to win the match. They are the only — yeah, the only real support you’ve got out there. And like I said the other day, in matches like that, to have, you know, a strong team behind you backing you and supporting you and trying to help you in any way you can to win the match, it helps.