Andy Murray has admitted that he avoided watching the Australian Open this year, even unfollowing his fellow players on social media to cope with his disappointment at not taking part. Murray had been due to compete in Melbourne until a positive coronavirus test sidelined him days before he was due to travel to Australia.
“I watched very little of the Australian Open. I didn’t watch any because I wanted to be there myself. It was a struggle, to be honest,” he said. “I stopped following all the tennis players I follow on social media and stuff because I just didn’t really want to see it. I saw little bits and pieces of highlights but didn’t watch any.”
Instead of Australia, Murray travelled to the ATP Challenger in Biella after recovering from the virus, where he lost in the final a week ago. This week, he will return to ATP tour competition for the first time since October at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier. He faces Egor Gerasimov of Belarus in the first round on Tuesday night.
Murray’s travels have shown him the challenge of competing in a worldwide tour during the pandemic. He believed that having Covid-19 antibodies would at least be a silver lining, allowing him to travel in Europe with greater freedom. Instead, the risk of testing positive due to viral shedding has made life more difficult.
“That’s actually made things more difficult because when I arrived in Italy I tested positive on arrival and then you’re in the hands of the government and it’s not under the ATP jurisdiction,” Murray said. “I then had to go through more testing and had to quarantine when I arrived to get tests, wait in my hotel and get a local nurse to come and test me. I then tested negative a couple of days later, and then I was allowed out.”
Murray will travel next to the Rotterdam ATP 500 tournament – which will require a negative test – meaning he will face a nervous wait to be cleared to travel there. On the court, he still believes that he is capable of competing with the top players after a pre-season he previously described as his best training block in years. He says that there was “no question” he was ready to compete with the best in Australia. Contracting coronavirus has diminished some of his off-season gains, but his confidence remains.
“I play in practice with lots of top players and I know how I get on against them,” said Murray. “If I was getting smoked when I was practising and playing with guys, I wouldn’t keep going through it. But I know the level I am playing at. I have not competed with the top 10 players in the world but I have been playing and practising with players between 20 and 70 in the world and doing absolutely fine.
“Provided I can stay fit for a period of time and get good practice and matches in, I don’t see why I shouldn’t be able to compete with the best players.”