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August 12, 2013

Andy Murray

TIM CURRY:テつ Thank you, everyone, for joining us today for this Emirates Airlines US Open Series conference call with reigning US Open and Wimbledon champion Andy Murray.テつ Andy will begin defense of his first major title in two weeks in New York but this week is competing at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.テつ Murray has traditionally played well in the summer hard court season, having finished in the top three in the Emirates Airlines US Open Series bonus challenge final standings four times in the past seven years, winning the series title in 2010.
Thanks for taking the time to join us today.テつ Let's open the call for questions.

Q.テつ Andy, it came out on Monday, the rankings, first time ever no American male in the top 20.テつ We've seen that happening in the last few decades, basically been only Andy for the last decade since Agassi left.テつ Can you theorize as a man who loves tennis and knows the game so well why American men are struggling so much at this point in time?
ANDY MURRAY:テつ Well, I think with these sort of things it goes pretty deep, and I obviously don't know all the answers to that because I'm not around the day in, day out of sort of American tennis and the USTA and that sort of thing.
What I would say is that in a way Americans have been normally spoilt in a way with how great the players they've had.テつ They've had obviously McEnroes and Connors and Agassis and Samprases, and Roddick even came under some criticism at times in his career when he was around the top of the game for years and years and was always in latter stages of the biggest tournaments.
But I don't know exactly why it is, but I would say that they have been spoilt a little bit with how great some of the players have been, and maybe this is just a blip.テつ But you have to wait a few years to kind of find that out.テつ I mean, there's still Isners and Querreys and those sorts of guys that can obviously cause upsets and get to the top of the game, but they obviously haven't maybe reached their potential yet.

Q.テつ As a quick follow‑up, some say they're not athletic enough and maybe they're relying too much on the fast serve, which isn't as much a factor as it used to be when the courts were quicker.テつ Do you think that could be part of the reason?
ANDY MURRAY:テつ I don't know.テつ Possibly.テつ You know, I mean, I've heard people say that they lose a lot of their best athletes to the other American sports, which is‑‑ that's definitely possible.テつ They're huge sports in their own right.
But yeah, I mean, obviously on the men's side it hasn't been as strong the last few years.テつ The American players over the last sort of I would say 10 to 15 years, they actually have a pretty set way of playing.テつ Most of their guys have big serve, big forehand.テつ That's almost like the identity of a top American player, which is fine.テつ I think it's good to have an identity.
Maybe the clay court tennis hasn't been as strong for the American players, and that's something that will maybe need to be worked on, because I think for a base, for a young tennis player, it's very important to grow up and play a lot of your tennis on the clay.

Q.テつ I'm quite sure when you hired Ivan Lendl you had specific aspects of your game you had hoped he would work with you on, so my question is in retrospect, did he help you with exactly that, or has he affected your game in other ways, in other areas that you hadn't anticipated at the beginning of the relationship?
ANDY MURRAY:テつ I think in terms of technical stuff, there's been very few things we've really worked on.テつ The thing I find most beneficial is kind of being able to speak to someone that had been in the position that I was in in terms of losing the first few Grand Slam finals and having been around the top of the game for quite a few years but maybe not necessarily feeling like you'd achieved much or that‑‑ felt like I hadn't reached my potential, just felt a little bit like a loser because I'd lost a lot of big finals.テつ I'd play well in the Masters Series, but even when I won Masters Series, the first question I would get is when are you going to win a Grand Slam, and it didn't matter how many big ATP events I'd won until I'd actually managed to do it in a Slam.テつ And actually having Ivan to discuss that with, and he obviously went through the same sort of things or same emotions, it made me feel a little bit more normal.
I'd say that's been the biggest help for me is being able to speak to him more on an emotional level and discuss the mental aspects that go with playing those big matches.

Q.テつ Obviously it's been your most successful year of your career, obviously winning in New York a year ago and the Olympic gold, and then obviously getting that huge monkey off your back on Centre Court in London.テつ I guess successfully defending the US Open crown would actually just put a perfect cap on what's been a fantastic year for you already?
ANDY MURRAY:テつ Well, I mean, it's the final Slam of the year, so that would be a great way to finish the year, whether I'm defending the tournament or not.テつ But for me it's obviously going to be a different experience playing in a Grand Slam when you are defending champion.テつ I've never been through that before, so I am excited about that.テつ I'll be interested to see how I respond.テつ I would hope I would respond well to it, but it's something new, so I can't guarantee that.
Look, obviously I work hard to try and get myself in the best possible shape for all of the Slams, and yeah, I mean, to go back to New York and have a good one there and put myself in a position to challenge for the title, that's what I want to do, and it would be a good way to finish the year.

Q.テつ Question about the prize money distribution:テつ 2013 has marked such a dramatic shift in the distribution of the prize money with early‑round losers getting a larger percentage than some of the finalists in the Slams, first‑round losers making 39 percent more at this year's US Open than they did last year.テつ My question, how important would you say that this movement is for the growth of the game, and what would you say to people that argue that it's nonsense for players who haven't won a match to be getting such an ample pay raise?
ANDY MURRAY:テつ Well, I think for the growth of the game, I don't know how much difference that makes because, you know, the lower level tournaments are still $10,000 and $15,000 tournaments, and that's been the same for 25, 30 years, so to actually grow the game I think you need to start looking at the prize money at the bottom end rather than just in the first couple of rounds of the majors.
But look, from the discussions we'd had with the Slams and obviously with all of the players in the players' meetings, it was something that the majority of all of the players wanted the increases to come in the early rounds, and that's what the tour went with, so it's good that the players have been listened to in that respect.
But I just think in terms of actually growing the game, that needs to start at the lowest level of events.テつ But it is fantastic that all of the Slams have stepped up their prize money and the way it's distributed.テつ That isn't down to sort of one person's opinion; it comes from the whole tour.

Q.テつ In terms of the Challenger prize money growing, has anybody ever talked about the possibilities of the Slams maybe setting up a slush fund that they can then funnel through to the Challenger Tour, and would you consider that a good idea?
ANDY MURRAY:テつ I don't know the best way to do those sorts of things.テつ Again, it's a big question that you need to speak to the right people about.テつ I mean, in some of the players' meetings that we've had, it has been discussed about how the Futures tournaments and the Challenger level tournaments that the prize money has been the same for a very, very long time, and if you actually want to make the game bigger and make the ATP events sort of have to step up their game, as well, the Challengers and the Futures need to be able to increase their prize money so that more tennis players can make a living, and then you'll get more people playing, more youngsters playing and being encouraged to play if there's really a possible career option, whereas right now there's probably‑‑ on the men's side I'd say there's probably 100 players in the whole world that are making a very solid living, and it's still expensive.
In terms of how we're going to improve the Challenger prize money and the Future prize money, I don't know exactly, but the Slams obviously make a lot of money, and yeah, if there's a way we can sort of filter some of that money down to the bottom end, then I think that would help.

Q.テつ I have a question regarding Cincinnati.テつ I know you've won two titles there, and I think it was your first Masters you won there, too.テつ What are some of your memories of playing in Cincinnati, and what do you like about the site itself?
ANDY MURRAY:テつ Well, the site itself has improved a lot the last couple of years.テつ They've made some big changes to it, and it's a really, really good facility for Masters Series now.テつ It'll be one of the best facilities we've got.テつ They've made big improvements, which is great.
In terms of my memories, I mean, it was the first Masters Series I won.テつ I remember winning against Novak in the final here I believe it was 7‑6, 7‑6.テつ It was an extremely hot day.
That would be the one thing that you always kind of expect when you come to Cincinnati.テつ You expect it to be very hot, humid, challenging, challenging conditions.テつ I've had some good success here in the past, but it normally takes a few rounds before you feel comfortable here because the conditions are so tricky.

Q.テつ Early in your career you surprised many with the pronouncement that the US Open was your favorite tournament.テつ You won obviously last year; you won the gold; you won Wimbledon.テつ Which is the sweetest tournament to win or which is the sweetest award to carry around for the rest of your life?
ANDY MURRAY:テつ Well, that's a good question.テつ I mean, the US Open, when I was growing up when I went there to play the juniors for the first time.テつ That was when it became my favorite tournament because when I was 15 years old you don't think too much about the history or the events too much; you're there and you're just worrying about that one tournament.テつ We got to stay in a really nice hotel there.テつ We got to eat in the players' restaurant with‑‑ I got to see some of my idols.テつ I remember watching Tim Henman and Roger Federer putting against each other just before they played the semis of the real US Open.テつ There I got to see Andre Agassi having his dinner and things like that, which at Wimbledon you're not‑‑ you don't get that.テつ You're sort of in a different area.テつ That was where my love for the US Open came from, and I really liked the atmosphere of the night matches.
When I started playing more on the tour and started to play more at Wimbledon and I lost a few tough matches and I got a little bit older, I started to understand kind of how much that tournament meant, not just to myself but also to the country and the whole history of it with no British man having won for so long.テつ That started to mean a little bit more.
The US Open last year for me was just a massive, massive relief to have finally done that.テつ The gold medal, in terms of an actual experience, I really, really enjoyed the Olympics probably the most out of the three of just pure enjoyment.テつ I loved the whole two weeks.テつ I got to watch loads of other sports.テつ An Olympic Games on home soil, I'll never get that experience that again.テつ That was really cool.
But the sweetest would be Wimbledon because of the amount of pressure I was under there and the way the final ended the year before.テつ That would be the sweetest I would say.

Q.テつ About winning Wimbledon, we all spoke with you that evening, but with a month to have it set in, do you wake up feeling a changed man, a different athlete?テつ How is it sitting with you being Wimbledon champion?
ANDY MURRAY:テつ The first couple of weeks after, it felt quite strange to me.テつ I had to kind of‑‑ like the first few days, I just had to kind of keep reminding myself that that actually happened, it wasn't just all a dream, because everything that went on after was quite surreal, the amount of attention and stuff that comes with that in the UK.テつ Literally every time I turned the television on or something, I was there.テつ It felt like a movie.テつ It didn't feel real.
And then once I got back to sort of training and stuff, then it started to sink in, and I started to, I guess, maybe enjoy it a little bit more, understand what had actually happened.テつ But yeah, I think the last year for me‑‑ most importantly I think it's kind of changed my sort of perception of myself almost, because like I said at the start, when you lose a lot of big matches and even when you're being successful in other tournaments, you're still getting asked about why you aren't winning the big, big matches.テつ It does make you feel a bit like a loser.
Last year or so, obviously that's changed, and I think when I'm in those sort of positions in the future, semis or finals of Grand Slams, I should have a bit more confidence in myself, and hopefully that will help me.

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