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February 20, 2023

Andy Murray

Doha, Qatar

Press Conference

A. MURRAY/L. Sonego

4-6, 6-1, 7-6


Q. Congratulations. This habit you have to beat Italians the first round, saving match points, it's a little bit disappointing for us. What was the key of the match, in your opinion? Just certain points, few points here and there, or something different?

ANDY MURRAY: Well, I mean, the very beginning of the match was important because he broke me in the very first game, and after that he didn't have any chances to break until the 5-4 game in the third set.

Yeah, for me, the slow start cost me at the beginning. He did start well the first game. I mean, he played the first two points of the match really well, and then I served double fault in the breakpoint. That was an important moment in the match.

Then, you know, the second set when I managed to get the break of serve at the beginning of the set, that was, you know, a key moment.

Then in the third set, the very beginning I had a breakpoint. Had I taken that, I think maybe I could have made the third set more comfortable. But after that, he started to gain a bit of momentum.

Then, yeah, obviously the 5-4 game, because we played some great points in that game, but when I needed to, I served really well in that game. I hit two very good first serves to save two of the match points.

Then, yeah, in the tiebreak, I can't remember exactly what happened there, but obviously he was up 3-0, I think serving, as well maybe. So, yeah, I mean, he obviously has the opportunity to close the match there, but I also finished the tiebreak well.

So there was a lot of key moments, but there was also quite a large period of the match where there wasn't that much happening, as well, because I was holding serve comfortably, and then third set he started to hold comfortably, as well, until right at the end.

Yeah, interesting one. Did well to get through it.

Q. You have a few titles here, but what is the most special match that you have played here?

ANDY MURRAY: Oh, I mean, that's a difficult one, because some of these matches were, like, 15, 16 years ago, and my memory is not what it used to be (smiling).

I remember winning against Federer here one year. I played a really good match against him. And also I played a really good final one year against Roddick, as well.

That might have been the same year where I played Federer I think in the semis and Roddick in the final. I played really well that year.

Then, I mean, I remember very clearly the match I played last year here against Bautista Agut. That was one of the lowest points of my career. I was really struggling. I had some physical issues, but my game was also really not good. Yeah, I had very little confidence and belief in myself at that moment, so I remember that match, too.

Then, yeah, right now obviously I remember any match where you save match points. There is not many of them in your career. I don't know how many times I have done it, but it would be 9, 10 times in a career where I played, like, 900 matches. So it's quite rare and special to do that.

Q. You're going to play Alexander Zverev. What do you think about the tournament here in Doha? You were champion in 2008 and 2009. What is the feeling of coming back to Doha?

ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, look, the tournament has changed a lot, the whole city, I think the whole country. But, I mean, obviously the city has changed a lot, and especially recently with, you know, with the World Cup coming here.

We're staying in like a new hotel, completely new area of the city that has got amazing buildings and hotels and malls and, you know, the tournament as well has changed a lot for the players. It's improved, yeah, a lot. It wasn't a bad tournament before, but it's made big improvements here. Very good gym for the players here. The food is excellent.

Yeah, I think, you know, the women's tournament last week, they had a great field, as well. A lot of top players playing, yeah, which is obviously good for the game here.

Q. After having not played an official match since Melbourne, maybe you're especially satisfied the way you fought back in that third set? Were you sure you were going to be already ready for that when you came in?

ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, because I have trained really well since Melbourne. You know, yeah, I pushed myself physically really hard since the end of last season. You know, obviously saw the benefits of that in Australia and the matches that I played, you know, trying to carry on that path as much as I can.

You know, even though tonight's match was 7-6 in the third and it was two-and-a-half hours, the fact that I was able to play for nearly five hours against Berrettini and then physically was able to manage another really long match afterwards has given me a lot more belief in my body, maybe more than I have had at any stage in my career, to be honest, and it's because I have not had many of those experiences of playing four hours and 50 minutes and then playing another really long match afterwards.

So that was really positive for me. So I knew physically I was going to be okay. But yeah, it was difficult to, like, the first match since Melbourne, because obviously the atmosphere and everything that I had there in the matches was incredible.

You know, here it's first round, wasn't so busy. The crowd, it was quite, you know, cold and windy and it's tough, but once I got myself into the match, I felt like I competed really well. My energy was good. Yeah, I was happy with that.

Q. As a general question, can you describe what's the personal feeling of being 5-All in a deciding set? Is it stress? Is it kind of pleasure?

ANDY MURRAY: I mean, this is something that probably helped me in my career, but in those moments I find it easier to concentrate and focus. I feel like a strength of mine in those moments is that I'm able, because I'm concentrating really hard in those moments, is that my decision-making on the court improves because of that.

One of my biggest strengths, I think, is my, like, my tactical awareness in matches. Sometimes like at the beginning of matches or there is periods of matches where it is a little bit flat or, you know, it's 1-All in the second set, it's sometimes not so easy to concentrate because the scoreline doesn't help you with that.

But when I get towards the end of sets or the end of matches, I feel like, yeah, like those pressure situations I'm able to focus harder and it helps me play better tennis.

You know, I think that would be the case for a lot of the top players, but some players in those moments tend to make worse decisions under pressure. It's one of the reasons why I have always felt like I played well at Wimbledon, because there has always been a lot of pressure and attention on me that although it's hard to deal with it and I find it stressful, when I'm in the matches, I find it just easier to concentrate. When I'm focused and concentrating well, I tend to make better decisions and play better tennis.

Q. You just said that maybe physically you are at the best in your career. That makes me quite surprised in a good way, because what you have gone through in the past three or four years, surgeries and stuff. Of course you proved that you can do that in Australia and of course today. Do you think that is it surprising for you, or you just can feel like you can do that already?

ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, so I don't believe I'm in the best shape of my career. I just gained a lot of confidence from what happened in Australia, more than at any other moment in my career, like just from a physical perspective because of what I was able to do there.

I'm sure when I was 25, 26 that physically I would have been better than I am now and, you know, faster and moving better on the court. But what I did in Australia, like I said, it gave me lots of belief in the physical side, which the last four or five years I didn't have that.

I didn't really believe in myself physically as much as I would have done when I was in my mid-20s. So that's something that is a really positive thing for me. So I know that, you know, now that I'm going to wake up tomorrow and maybe my body will be a bit sore, but I will still be able to go out there and compete well physically in the next round. Two-and-a-half, three years ago, and even at times at the end of last year I was struggling a lot physically. I lost a lot of confidence, yeah, in myself because of that.

Putting all the work I did in the offseason and continuing that after the Australian Open has really, yeah, has really helped me and something that I need to keep doing moving forwards.

But it has been really difficult the last three or four years, because there is a balance, you know, like when I was 20 I could train as hard as I wanted and do all the exercises that I wanted and there was no issue. I could wake up the next day and feel fine.

But now, at my age, I need to be more mindful of the amount of training that I'm doing and what sort of training that I'm doing, and maybe at times these last few years I got that balance wrong. I might have not been doing enough and not doing the right things and, you know, that affected me a bit.

Q. What tournaments are you going to play in this clay season?

ANDY MURRAY: My plan just now is to play in Rome and Madrid and hopefully the French Open, providing my body is good. You know, I'll do a training block after Miami on the clay. I'm going to do that in Europe somewhere for a few weeks, three or four weeks. I'll train, try and get my body used to the clay courts and to monitor how my body is feeling.

If it feels good, I'll play Rome, Madrid, and like I say, hopefully the French Open, because, yeah, the last -- I don't know how many times I have played it in the last five or six years, but when I have, like, I physically was not good the year I played against Wawrinka, and I can't remember too many other times I have played it in the last five or six years.

So I'd like to get the opportunity to play it one more time before I stop playing. Whilst I feel physically really good, I would like to play there again.

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