Murray ready to work overtime in Barcelona to stay at top
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[April 25, 2017]
(Reuters) - World number one
Andy Murray returns to the Barcelona clay courts that launched his
career this week as he puts in some overtime ahead of the French
Murray, who played and lost his first professional match as a
17-year-old at the tournament in 2005, against Jan Hernych, took a
late entry into the Barcelona Open after an early defeat to Spain's
Albert Ramos-Vinolas in Monte Carlo last week.
While giving him some crucial match time on a surface he has grown
to love, it also offers the 29-year-old the chance to consolidate
his position at the top of the ATP rankings.
Murray accumulated a barrel-load of ranking points during last
season's claycourt swing, winning the Rome Masters and reaching the
French Open final, where he lost to Novak Djokovic.
With those points to defend and the effects of an elbow injury still
lingering, Murray knows the pressure is on to keep the number one
ranking he secured in November.
"I hope to stay there for a long time, but it's hard," Murray, who
spent two years at the Sanchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona as a
junior, told the ATP's website.
"It took me 12 years to get there, and the physical and mental
effort it took to do it last year was enormous. It's not easy to
stay there, but I hope I can.
"It's always hard to maintain your ranking at the top of the game. A
lot of the young ones are starting to play better and better, so
it's going to be tough."
Surprisingly, Murray's first ATP title on the red dirt did not
arrive until 2015 in Munich. He quickly followed that by beating
king of clay Rafael Nadal in the Madrid final.
Last year was even better, and he won 18 of his 21 matches during
the European claycourt season.
The transition from the hardcourts to the clay can still be tricky
though, even for a player now so at home on the surface.
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Andy Murray of Britain plays a shot to Albert Ramos-Vinolas of
Spain. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
"The best way to adapt to new surfaces [is] playing
naturally against the best players in the world," he said.
Stepping back out on the Barcelona clay for the first time since
2012 is also something of a trip down memory lane for Murray.
"I have great memories, not only from training and living here, but
also because I played my first professional match on one of these
courts and I remember it well," he said.
"The last time I came here I hadn't won a claycourt tournament, nor
been in big finals, nor beaten some of the best players on this
surface. But in the past few years I've had great wins against Rafa
(Nadal) and Novak (Djokovic)."
The top seed will face Australian Bernard Tomic on Wednesday.
(Writing by Martyn Herman; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
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