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'It's not safe' - Andy Murray suggests tennis is trying to cram too much as a return to action looms large

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Andy Murray. Photo: Getty Images

Andy Murray. Photo: Getty Images

AFP via Getty Images

Andy Murray. Photo: Getty Images

Andy Murray has revealed he is planning to opt out of playing the relocated Cincinnati Masters event, as he aims to get his preparation right for the US Open at Flushing Meadows.

The Scot is planning to play at the event in Washington instead if the ATP Tour gets the green light to resume in August, but the prospect of playing a Masters event that has been moved from Cincinnati to New York does not appeal to the 2012 US Open champion.

The USTA have confirmed that they intend to move the final event before what will now be the second Grand Slam of the year to New York, with all players going into a bubble that will allow them to play both events and limit the risk of spreading the Covid-19 virus.

Yet Murray has insisted he will not play in an event scheduled to take place a week before the US Open, as he edges his way back into competitive action after his latest injury lay-off.

"I don't think I will play the Masters event that has been moved to New York," he confirmed. "I'd hate to pick up a little injury that prevented me from playing at the US Open. I would prefer to play Washington and miss the Masters event if they all go ahead."

Murray also expressed his reservation about playing the French Open in Paris, with the clay court season set to get underway immediately after the US Open with the Madrid Masters set to be played a week after the event in New York.

"It is not possible and it is not safe, in my opinion, to play the final or even the semi-finals or quarter-finals in New York and then you are playing on Tuesday in Madrid at altitude on a clay court when players haven't played in a long time," he added, as he reflected on a hectic schedule that will see the Madrid and Rome Masters played in the two weeks ahead of the French Open.

"A lot of the top players are not going to be competing in many of the biggest events. None of the top players for a very, very long time have competed the week before a Slam, so the rankings could get a bit skewed.

"It might worth looking at a two-year ranking, so that guys who did well last year and aren't able to defend their points properly are not punished. I think that might be fair.

"Fine the events can go ahead, but even Beijing ad Shanghai come on the back of the French Open with no weeks off. There are literally big tournaments every single week and it is going to be very difficult for players that are winning every week to commit to that many tournaments. I think we need to be a bit careful about the rankings."

Meanwhile, Murray declared he was satisfied with his week's work, as his hopes of winning the Battle Of The Brits events came to an end as he lost a tight battle against Dan Evans.

Murray produced some sparkling form to win the first set 6-1, but he ran out of steam in the second set and surrendered an advantage in the championship tie break that decided the match, with Evans benefitted from a net cord on match point to win it 10-8.

In what was Murray's first event since the Davis Cup finals in Madrid last November, the two-time Wimbledon champion declared he was encouraged by the way his body responded to a return to competitive action.

"Some of the tennis I played this week has been very encouraging, but there is clearly room for improvement," added Murray in his post match Zoom press conference.

"In this match, I started well and as has been the case in a lot of my matches this week, my levels dropped off. I have not been able to sustain a high level for long enough, but my game is there. I just need more time to practice and prepare and I'll get there.

"I just haven't been able to do it for long enough in matches and that is something I used to be able to sustain when I was at the top of the game and competing regularly. I'm struggling to maintain my levels due to lack of matches and maybe shot selection. Not playing enough games makes it harder, but overall it's good to play matches again.

"This was not the same as playing matches on tour. It's very different with matches on the court and while I guess we will have to play with no fans for the next few events, it was good to get used to that.

"There was atmosphere on the court, but it was different, for sure. It is just good to play matches, competitive matches. There are things in a slam or a tour event that I would do differently, but from a physical perspective I did pretty well. I didn't feel brilliant after my match with Ward, but it didn't affect my movement and that is encouraging."

Murray is now planning to set up his practice regime, as he looks forward to a return to the ATP Tour in Washington in August, as he sets his sights on the US Open at the end of that month.

"I won't be going into the US Open preparing for that event like I did this one," he added.

"I have been practicing there or four days a week in the build-up to this, progressively building up my load over this next period.

"I didn't want to go from doing nothing to a big spike in what I did and I think I moved well. It was a positive week."

Online Editors