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By Scoop Malinowski | Monday, June 17, 2019

Andy Murray, Roger Federer

In celebration of Andy Murray's return to action at Queen's Club this week, 50 players, including Roger Federer and Andy Roddick, share their experiences facing the Scot in a new book, Facing Murray, by Scoop Malinowski.

Photo credit: Match For Africa 3 Facebook

Long before Andy Murray emerged as a major mischief maker on the pro circuit, he was a gifted junior player prone to pranks.

Rival Rafael Nadal recalls Murray being a buddy and a bit of a renegade in their younger years.

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"We shared competitions under-13, under-14. Yeah, we know each other since a very long, long time ago," Nadal said of Murray. "When he was a kid, he was little bit a bad boy. Then, of course, you have an evolution on your personality. And yes, at the end of the day you appreciate a lot your rivals because you shared lot of important moments in our lives.

"I always had good relationship with him. We shared moments in my academy. We shared moments playing some exhibitions all around the world. We shared court in the most important stadiums in the world, competing for the most important things. That's impossible to forget."

Two-time Olympic gold-medal champion Murray solidified his status as a national hero defeating Roger Federer to capture gold for Great Britain in the 2012 Olympic Games at Wimbledon.

Twenty-time Grand Slam king Federer sums up Murray's competitive legacy in four powerful words: "Hall of Famer. Legend."

"We know Andy very well. We like him," Federer said at the Australian Open in January. "He doesn't have many enemies, to be quite honest. He's a good guy, Hall of Famer, legend.

"He won everything he wanted to win. Anybody would substitute their career with his. He's a great guy."

In celebration of Murray's return to action at Queen's Club this week where he partners 2017 Queen's Club champion Feliciano Lopez in doubles, author Scoop Malinowski caught up with about 50 players who have faced the three-time Grand Slam champion. They share their stories of taking on the former world No. 1 in a new book Facing Andy Murray: Symposium of a Champion.

Facing Murray: Symposium of a Champion is now available on The book retails for $9.99.

An excerpt from Facing Murray is here

Andy Roddick: It Felt Like You Were Trying to Solve a Puzzle

America's last male Grand Slam singles champion won the US Open in 2003 and weeks later rose to world No. 1.

Overall, Roddick won 32 ATP singles titles. He also reached the finals of Wimbledon on three occasions (2004, 2005, 2009).

Question: Describe the feeling of playing against Andy Murray?

Andy Roddick: "Oh gosh, it was frustrating. You always felt like you were trying to solve a puzzle. And the puzzle was better than you [laughs]. He was never a guy that was going to come out and overpower you. You felt like you were in most rallies. But all the sudden you were down 6-2, 3-2 and you're trying to figure out what's happening. Because a lot of the guys, they come out and overpower you, Rafa—you can feel his heat, Roger—you can feel it.

"Andy Murray is such a tactician. Great at spacing. Knows where to kind of put the ball. Knows when he needs to create length. Knows when he needs to bring you forward. No shot he hits is by accident."

Question: A lasting memory or anecdote of Andy on or off court?

Andy Roddick: "Andy and I used to practice a lot before he was maybe like a top ten player. He was always asking questions. He never wasted a moment. It's funny, in '06 I remember we were practicing at Wimbledon and he was asking a bunch of questions. Real student of the game. And then we played third round and I lost to him. I thought that was bad advice from me [laughs]."

Jesse Witten: You gotta be a smart guy to be a player like that

University of Kentucky standout Jesse Witten once won a set from Novak Djokovic at the 2009 US Open on Louis Armstrong Stadium. But he had no such fortune when he played Murray as a lucky loser at 2005 Indianapolis.

Jesse Witten: "I honestly don't remember the match. I was still in college. It was in Indianapolis. I think the score was 5 and 5, if I had to guess. Some of my kids (that Witten coaches at his academy in Naples, FL), they remember every detail and everything that's ever happened with my tennis career. But I honestly don't remember. It seems like so many matches ago. I remember him being very feisty and very irritable when I hit a good shot. Because I was just some little bum from college, just coming up. I was kind of a nobody with a really low ranking."

Question: What was Andy's demeanor on court?

Jesse Witten: "So he seemed really annoyed every time I would win a point or keep it close. So I found a little bit of joy in that. You know, trying to annoy these guys. So that's kind of what I'm trying to do today (Witten still plays an occasional Futures or ATP Challenger tournament) just annoying these guys as long as I can. As long as I can still move and walk.

"I don't remember much about the actual match other than it was in Indianapolis. And I remember the court was right next to the stadium, right next to the food court. And I still run into Andy on occasion. I saw him at a Miami Heat game. He's like
because every time I see these guyslike him or Djokovicyou see they have that look on their face like, 'THAT GUY [laughs]. THAT GUY'S ANNOYING.' So I enjoy that. I enjoy that."

Question: Did you get any sense back then when you competed against Andy that he had some tennis greatness in him?

Jesse Witten: "He was already good. He was already good in my mind. He was already making that rise up the rankings. Never had any's hard to predict these guys, a lot of times, if they're gonna be top one, top two, top three in the world, winning Grand Slams. It just makes it fun that I got to play against him, be on the same court as him. And be a part of that run."

Question: What can you tell us about his sense of humor?

Jesse Witten: "[Laughs]...just little stuff from off the court. Probably stuff that we don't talk about [laughs]. Little jokes. All the guys have personalities, they're all witty, they're all funny. And he's no different. You gotta be a smart guy to be a player like that, on and off the court. So you gotta be able to roll with the punches. And he did that. He can give it and he can take it."

John McEnroe: I didn't realize that he'd be this great

Seven-time Grand Slam singles champion John McEnroe won 77 singles and 78 doubles titles and attained the world No. 1 ranked in both singles and doubles.

The Hall of Famer and Davis Cup legend played against Andy Murray once in an exhibition. McEnroe shares the details of that meeting.

Question: You played against Andy in an exhibition in Scotland many years ago in 2004 when he was seventeen and just breaking into the ATP Tour. What are your memories of that match you two played?

John McEnroe: "Well, he was young then. And the court suited me and I still had a little life in the legs [smiles]. So I gave him a little lesson early but fortunately it was only one set. And I'm sure that he's been wanting ... or maybe hasn't wanted for it to come back because it seems like he's doing okay and moved passed that - he's been the number one player in the world. He's learned a lot over the years. I knew he was going to be a great player. I didn't realize that he'd be this great. And I gotta give him a lot of credit."

Question: What are keys to Andy's success?

John McEnroe: "What I love the most is how incredibly well he can move. It’s unbelievable. Most people can’t move on the court like that and find the position and the angles that Andy’s able to come up with. The way he’s able to keep an opponent on his heels is really hard to do. He believes in the way he plays."

Question: Forget you are John McEnroe for a minute. How would a prime John McEnroe vs Andy Murray Wimbledon final match look?

John McEnroe: "I'd love that. You want to go out there and play the best. And I've had the crowd against me before in those situations [smiles slightly]. I'm sure I would have the overwhelming amount of people against me. But that would fire me up. Any time you play a guy that's got different styles, it makes it interesting. I mean, you look at the top guys, I mean, these are the greatest
Novak, Roger, Rafa and now Andy's trying to get in the mix closer. So it would be amazingly tough. But I'd like to do it at Wimbledon [smiles]."


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