By Martyn Herman
MADRID (Reuters) – Former world number one Andy Murray admitted he was not in the best physical shape to open Britain’s Davis Cup Finals campaign after narrowly avoiding a shock defeat to unheralded Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor on Wednesday.
The 32-year-old had not played a competitive match since winning the European Open title in Antwerp, his first since returning after having had hip surgery in January.
He has also been dealing with an elbow injury and becoming a father for the third time and it showed as the 179th-ranked Griekspoor, who played instead of Botic Van de Zandschulp, gave Murray a torrid time on Court 3.
Murray eventually scrambled to a 6-7(7) 6-4 7-6(5) victory in a match he admitted he had not deserved to win.
Afterwards he said he was carrying extra weight around the court. “When I was 25, it’s quite easy, after a couple of weeks of practice, it’s quicker to get going whereas now it takes a little bit longer,” he told reporters.
“I’ve made quite big changes to the way I train off the court as well. But the weight and things like that, that’s my fault. I’ve never had that in my career before.
“If you’re weighing four or five kilos more than you’re used to, that is probably going to affect how you feel moving around. You go the gym and lift a medicine ball up that’s five kilos, it’s pretty heavy. So I need to do better with that.
“That’s not anyone else’s responsibility.”
There has been a jolly mood around the British camp since arriving in Madrid, where they have been handed a relatively comfortable group along with the Dutch and Kazakhstan.
On the eve of the tie they amused themselves by using phrases from the movie Frozen in their press conference.
But Murray played down suggestions they had taken their opening Group E clash lightly, even if he admitted the late Dutch switch to play the 23-year-old Griekspoor had thrown him.
“We arrived here a week before our first match, which I think everyone considered to be pretty early,” Murray, who also seemed to be suffering with a cold, said.
“I was taking the match very seriously today. But when you have a child, maybe that becomes your priority for a period of time. Maybe I could have got on the practice courts sooner.
“He played completely differently against me to what we’d discussed. A guy serving 180kph second serves makes things difficult.”
While the lack of atmosphere has been criticised at the inaugural 18-nation Finals at La Caja Magica, Murray said he had no complaints so far with the new format even if it lacked the fever-pitch intensity of the 2015 final in Ghent when he inspired Britain to the title with victory over Belgium.
“The atmosphere is much more intimate on a court like that today. The atmosphere was brilliant,” he said.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)