August 21, 2020
New York, New York, USA
THE MODERATOR: We have Andy Murray here. Questions, please.
Q. This break, do you think it works more in your favor or less in your favor than for some other players given all you've been through? What about the prestige of winning this title, such an exceptional thing, does it make it more or less important to you?
ANDY MURRAY: So in terms of who it helps more, I mean, I really have no idea because I guess we haven't all really been in this position before. Obviously have had injuries and things which I've missed months of competition with in the past. But, yeah, it's hard to know.
I said it a few weeks ago, like, I do feel there will be a lot of upsets. Usually there's a little bit more time to get used to the conditions. Normally you play a few more tournaments in the buildup to a major event like the US Open, as well.
Who knows really what's going to happen. I think obviously still winning a tournament like Cincinnati or winning the US Open is still a huge deal. It's just, like I said, going to be different playing in front of no fans.
It's really nice in some ways for the players. The USTA have done, in my opinion, an excellent job of setting everything up. The plaza outside is really nice. They've done a really good job. So in some ways it's nice for the players.
I don't know, it just feels a bit sad that there's no fans watching the matches, to be honest. I kind of felt that a little bit yesterday when I was walking through the grounds. It's nice walking through to your practice courts, not getting stopped or anything, but then the atmosphere is just not the same without the people.
Q. Could you tell us how you're feeling fitness-wise. You haven't played that much for a while. How much are you looking forward to playing Cincinnati and the US Open?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I'm looking forward to it, like just to be back competing again. I've really enjoyed, like, the last few days just practicing with top players, which I've kind of done it a little bit back home but not that much. I've had the chance to practice with Dan Evans and Cam Norrie. I played a match against Kyle which has been good.
Since I got here, it's very different conditions, very lively, quick, very hot. I've been practicing. I practiced with Thiem, Rublev and Khachanov. Those guys don't really hold back, as well. Yeah, a bit of a different speed to what I've been used to.
I felt a little bit off the pace at times. But I'm feeling quite good on the court physically in terms of my hip. When I spoke to my team a couple months ago, that was really all I wanted. I wanted to get hopefully to the US Open feeling pretty pain-free so that I could go out and play and enjoy playing in a Grand Slam again.
Q. I believe you're one of the players staying in a private house during this stretch, is that correct?
ANDY MURRAY: No. I stayed until whatever the last day was. I stayed in a house in Greenwich before moving into the hotel to the tournament. I got over here, I think I arrived on the 12th or 13th, practiced for five days, yeah, before coming into the bubble.
Q. Had you considered staying in a private house? Was that something you took seriously as an option?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I mean, I'd spoken about it. It's just the costs were astronomical, so I went for the bubble. It's nice. They've done a really good job at the hotel. They've got games and arcades and things like that, which I enjoy. Still a bit of a child in that respect. They've got that.
They're putting on, like, different food in the evenings for the players. We can get delivery. Room is absolutely fine. You have a gym there. So, yeah, it's absolutely fine.
But I had considered staying in a house. I'm happy with the hotel. Just a little bit of a drive each day to get into the courts.
Q. Serena was talking about staying in a house. She could pay whatever astronomical thing she needed to. She was saying one of her concerns was she felt safer being around fewer people than a hotel. Your level of ease and calm about this? Is there a safety side of being at a hotel during this pandemic? Do you trust your colleagues and everyone else in the building is going to be doing the right things?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, so I would say going into the hotel was a little bit of a concern. Then when you get in there and you see everything that they're doing to make sure it's as safe as it can be, then I felt quite relaxed.
Since I got in, been tested twice. There's security kind of making sure, not just at the hotel, but on the site, making sure that everybody has their masks on. There's hand sanitizer everywhere. From what I've seen so far, I mean, everyone seems to be doing the right things.
Like yesterday I finished my practice with Rublev, I walked off the court, probably took 10, 15 steps off the court, one of the ladies came up to me and asked if I had a mask, if I could put it on. I had just forgotten. There's people around making sure that we're not making too many mistakes.
Yeah, I feel comfortable now that I'm here. But I did have some, I guess, concerns beforehand.
Q. You've spent a lot of time in Cincinnati over the years. Is there anything that you find yourself missing about being at that tournament?
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, I've always enjoyed going to Cincinnati. The last few years since they improved facilities on-site and stuff, it's made a big difference. I think obviously Mason, Ohio, is not the same as staying in Manhattan. Obviously there's a lot going on in Manhattan.
The event itself, you get fans coming from all over the state. It creates a really nice atmosphere on all the courts. I found a hotel I like staying there, stay at the Homewood Suites. My brother, a few of the guys I get on with are staying there. Spend a lot of time at Whole Foods. I like it. I've always enjoyed playing that.
Q. There's been reports some of the players collectively are not happy that players were withdrawn from Cincinnati because they tested positive. Can you weigh in on that and explain what the stance of the players is? Is there confusion with the plans? Is it unfair?
ANDY MURRAY: I think from my perspective that wasn't how I understood the rules. My understanding was that if a team member tested positive, but you were not sharing a room with that team member, you would be allowed to play providing you were negative. I think that's what all of the players thought the rules were.
So when they were withdrawn from the tournament, yeah, the players were like, That isn't what we understood the rules to be. Some of the players were saying, Well, I wouldn't have come with a trainer or a physio if I knew that was the case.
Not saying that it's not the right decision, but the players were not clear as to what the rules actually were. I wasn't either. Yeah, that's why I think the players were disappointed with that.
Q. Is there actually a petition being made or was that report not true?
ANDY MURRAY: A what?
Q. A petition. I heard there's some sort of petition happening to try to reinstate them or something.
ANDY MURRAY: I'm not sure about that. I know the players were discussing the possibilities of them being allowed to play because we weren't sure what the rules were. They felt like the rules had been changed.
But it obviously happened literally only a day or so before the qualifying started. Wasn't really enough time I think to get all of the players together to come to like a consensus really.
I'm not sure if anything is actually going to be done about it or not. I feel bad for the two players because that wasn't their understanding of what the rules were. Potentially they may have made different decisions, yeah.
Q. You like a lot of other top players tend not to play in tournaments in the week before a Grand Slam. How do you feel having this tournament this week before the US Open might affect the US Open? In particular, might it actually count against some players who go deep in the draw this week, if they then have to go straight from that into playing a slam?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I mean, I think potentially it could. Again, a lot of it will depend on how tough their matches are during the week. Sometimes guys are out there practicing for two, two and a half hours the week before a Grand Slam. If they're playing matches up till the Friday, I think that's the final, if they're playing quick matches and stuff, maybe it's not an issue. If you're playing in the middle of the day, you play three or four really tough matches, yeah, it could potentially work against you.
At the same time if you lose early, you potentially just play one match in kind of six months in the buildup to a major, which is also not perfect. I think there's quite a lot of unknowns going into the tournament. I'm thinking, like I said, there will be some surprising results and stuff.
I'm sure some of the guys that do really well in Cincinnati may not do well at the US Open. There will be some that do really well in both events. There will be some that lose early in Cincinnati and go on to have good runs in New York.
Yeah, we'll just have to wait and see. I mean, ideally I would want to play a few matches for sure. I can't remember the last time I played the week before a slam. It was a very, very long time ago.
Q. From your point of view, you feel it's going to be an advantage for you to play this week?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I mean, I think so. Just because you can't replicate matches. For me to know exactly how my body feels after playing a competitive match will be important for me. If I did well and got a few matches, that would suggest my body is probably feeling quite good. If I didn't do well, my body wasn't great, it would suggest I probably need to do some work in the sort of eight, nine days before the tournament starts.
I think it would just give me more kind of information. I'll be able to learn a little bit more about where I'm at, maybe things I need to work on, things I need to practice and stuff.
Q. Angela Buxton, who was a bit of an outsider in the British tennis world, played an important role in American tennis life as a friend of Althea Gibson, just passed. Did you know her? Can you comment on her role in British tennis or as a person?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I didn't really know her that well. I met her a few times, but very, very briefly. I saw some of the articles and stuff about her. Like you mentioned, with Althea Gibson. Obviously very sort of forward thinking, sort of admirable the way she dealt with that situation when she was playing.
I didn't know her that well unfortunately. Sorry.
Q. You've had an incredible stretch going through the pain, the surgeries, then became a parent, then COVID. Put into words how you've changed as a man during this period.
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, during the coronavirus, yeah, I learnt that I was quite patient. I learnt that with just being around my kids and stuff in the house, which it's very rare. Obviously I'm used to traveling. I would see them a lot when I was home, but I would often be away. I was pleased with how I was able to keep my temper with them.
Then as soon as I stepped back on the tennis court, I can't do it (laughter). I don't know why that is. I'd love to understand exactly why.
But, look, last few years obviously they've been tough. Again, I felt like I was doing really well at the end of last year. I was so excited for the beginning of this year. Obviously had the setback again in November, tough few months after that. Didn't really know exactly what was going on with the hip.
Now I'm in a position to compete again, hopefully play in a major. I'll try my best to reduce the risk of having setbacks. Obviously played a lot of tennis four weeks in a row before the Davis Cup when my hip started hurting. Obviously won't make that mistake again.
So, yeah, that's kind of it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, everybody.
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