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Andy Murray: Is playing on clay in Madrid a risk for the former two-time champion? | tennisnews


Raz Mirza

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The last time Andy Murray played on clay he suffered a humbling defeat to Stan Wawrinka at the French Open, so why return to the dirt? Barry Cowan explains that with Madrid being at altitude, conditions are very different, and the Scot is a two-time champion in the Spanish capital

Last Updated: 01/05/22 7:03am

Barry Cowan feels playing in Madrid when you haven't played in those conditions in a while, it's a risk for Andy Murray

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Barry Cowan feels playing in Madrid when you haven’t played in those conditions in a while, it’s a risk for Andy Murray

Barry Cowan feels playing in Madrid when you haven’t played in those conditions in a while, it’s a risk for Andy Murray

Andy Murray has made a U-turn and will return to clay-court action at the Madrid Open this week, but is it a risk worth taking for the two-time champion?

Playing on the dirt is a dilemma for the Scot, who has previously stated that he would skip the entire clay-court season, including the French Open.

So why the change of mind? World No 81 Murray knows he needs more competitive action under his belt as he builds up to the grass-court season. He last played in late March when he lost to Daniil Medvedev in the second round of the Miami Open.

He’s also keen to find out how his partnership with Ivan Lendl is going since they reunited for a third time in March.

“One week in Madrid when you haven’t played in those conditions in a while is a risk”

Barry Cowan on Andy Murray deciding to play in Madrid

Murray, who has battled back from career-saving hip surgery, has previously said clay has exacerbated injury issues.

The last time Murray played on the surface he suffered a chastening defeat for the loss of six games against Stan Wawrinka in the opening round of the French Open in 2020.

Murray’s U-turn has certainly surprised tennis commentator and former British No 3, Barry Cowan.

“It was something that I never thought would happen because of what happened the last time he played on clay. He was uncomfortable on it, in terms of his movement. He felt the transition from going to hard to clay and then back to the grass , which, let’s be honest, is the most important part of Andy Murray’s season, is making sure he’s fit for the grass,” he told Sky Sports.

“Having had that practice in Miami on the clay, he obviously felt his body was right. He obviously felt that playing in Madrid, getting a wildcard and playing some matches, is a positive.

“I thought that maybe if he felt he could play some matches that he could play at a Challenger on the hard.

“I’m sure it’s not something he would have woke up and thought ‘I’m going to do it’. I’m sure it was something he would have thought about.

“But Madrid is so unique. The conditions are not like a clay-court as such. It is super, super quick. You only have to look at some of the players who have done well there over the years. It’s the type of place where John Isner likes to play and the type of place where Reilly Opelka could do some damage.

“If we go back to Indian Wells, Murray has not always played his best tennis in the desert compared to Miami because of the lighter conditions. Madrid is at altitude and Murray will go back to the fact that he has won that title before, but that’s on the back of playing a lot more matches.”

Serena Williams' coach Patrick Mouratoglou says he was surprised that Andy Murray teamed up with Ivan Lendl for a third time

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Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou says he was surprised that Andy Murray teamed up with Ivan Lendl for a third time

Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou says he was surprised that Andy Murray teamed up with Ivan Lendl for a third time

Cowan hopes Murray’s change of plans won’t backfire because playing on a surface he is not 100 per cent up to speed with may have severe repercussions on his body.

“One week in Madrid when you haven’t played in those conditions in a while is a risk,” added Cowan.

“It’s something he has spoken to Ivan Lendl at length about and they feel that’s the right thing to do.”

Murray to face Thiem in blockbuster opener

Thiem (left) will meet Murray in a high-profile encounter at La Caja Magica

Thiem (left) will meet Murray in a high-profile encounter at La Caja Magica

Murray was handed a high-profile first-round clash with former US Open champion Dominic Thiem, who is working his way back from a long-term wrist injury.

It will be the first tournament since the French Open last year featuring both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, who has recovered from a fractured rib.

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