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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday March 1, 2020

Andy Murray is doing everything he can to get back to the peak of his powers, but the former World No.1 is still lacking matches and the confidence that goes with them as he plays at this week’s ABN Amro Open in Rotterdam.

Tennis Express

Today, Murray had just enough to squeeze past Dutchman Robin Haase, 2-6, 7-6(2), 6-3, and afterwards the three-time Slam champion was quick to open up about the headwinds he’s facing.

"From the physical side it was positive," he said. "I think I moved pretty well. Played for two and a half hours and my hips and groin and stuff felt good, so that was positive. But from the tennis side it was average at best."

The positives are certainly there. Murray, has done the unthinkable in working himself back to playing shape since his hip replacement surgery, and he should be commended. And yet, Murray says there is a constant stream of negativity pointed in his direction every time he loses a match these days. 

Murray says that one of the hardest challenges he faces is trying to block out constant criticism and calls for his retirement. He’s even deleted Twitter and Instagram from his phone (after watching “The Social Dilemma” and taking heart), but the negative press he receives each time he falls short on the tennis court is taking its toll, regardless.

It didn't hurt that the Scot tested positive for Coronavirus and ended up missing the Australian Open. It has been hard for players to build any kind of rhythm since the pandemic hit a year ago, and it must be doubly difficult for Murray, who is trying to rebuild his fitness and his confidence all at once.

"It's not easy,” he said. “I was playing really well, I was playing really good in practice and then it's been a bit of a struggle actually since I had the break with coronavirus. Just haven't played well, to be honest with you.

“Every time I lose a match ... I'm getting told to retire, that I should stop playing, that I'm finished and I've got nothing left and whatever, and it's sad and all of these things… I feel like I'm playing for my career just now, each time I step on the court, which is a motivation in some ways, but it also adds a bit of extra stress, there's a bit of extra doubt there, and on top of that I'm playing with a metal hip, which is hard - trust me it's not easy.”

Murray, who will face either Andrey Rublev or Marcos Giron in the second round at Rotterdam, says he is eager and ready to take on the challenge. His main goal is to get more matches in. He says that for the moment he feels fine physically, with no lingering issues due to his hip surgeries of the past.

“Yes it's a big challenge for me just now and one that I'll meet head on, but it's not easy just now and the last few months have been a bit of a struggle,” he said.

Murray was asked by a reporter in Rotterdam if he felt he had something to prove these days, and he was quick to remind the Zoom chat that he has played a fair bit of good tennis since his return from his hip replacement in 2019.

“I don't need to prove it. I've done it,” he said. “I beat Zverev. The following week he was in the final of the US Open. I know I can play at that level. I just need to do it consistently and I need to physically stay fit for a period of time… I'm competing well in practices and yeah, let's see what happens the rest of this week and over the next few months. Hopefully I'll start to play better tennis, that's the thing for me that's a concern, if physically I was struggling I'd be really disappointed and flat about it, but my tennis will get better."


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