Lower-level matches key in comeback after making Nottingham final – Andy Murray

Lower-level matches key in comeback after making Nottingham final – Andy Murray

Andy Murray admitted he wished he had played more lower-level tournaments after making it back-to-back finals at the Rothesay Open in Nottingham.

The former world number one won his second title of the season on the second-tier Challenger Tour in Surbiton last week and is aiming to repeat the feat at the Nottingham Tennis Centre.

He is yet to drop a set this week and eased past Portugal’s Nuno Borges 6-3 6-2 in only 72 minutes for his ninth victory in a row.

It is now four years since Murray returned to action following his hip resurfacing operation and he is pushing to be seeded at a grand slam for the first time since then at Wimbledon in two weeks’ time.

“I probably wish I’d dropped down and played more at this level sooner,” said Murray. “I did play a few Challengers when I came back but maybe I should have stayed there a little bit longer.

“I’ve won against three or four top-100 players in this run. There’s been some good wins against experienced grass-court players.

“For me physically and mentally to get used to being in this situation more again has been really helpful. Now it’s up to me to try and carry that on at the higher level over the next few weeks.”

Coach Ivan Lendl watches from the stands
Coach Ivan Lendl watched from the stands (Nigel French/PA)

Murray will return to the top 40 on Monday but will need more wins at Queen’s Club next week to earn a Wimbledon seeding and the concern could be the number of matches he has played in a short amount of time.

The 36-year-old played down those worries, though, saying: “Yes, you could say number of matches is what’s important but it’s also the nature of those matches.

“Today’s match was an hour and a quarter and was not a particularly physical match.

“If I was training at Queen’s, I would have been on the practice court for a couple of hours today and I would have been in the gym.

“There’s obviously the mental stress of the matches and competing but quite a few of the matches have been pretty quick. Physically I feel fine just now.”

Murray had rated his quarter-final win over Dominic Stricker as his best performance of the run and he was clinical in the opening set against Borges, ranked 73.

The second was a little scrappier, with Murray dropping serve and facing break points in other games, but more of the pressure was on his opponent and the Scot managed to avoid making things complicated.

Andy Murray in action
Andy Murray won his second title of the season on the second-tier Challenger Tour in Surbiton last week (Nigel French/PA)

The victory completed another memorable day for the home players after Katie Boulter and Jodie Burrage set up a very rare all-British final in the WTA event.

In the final, the Scot will take on 20-year-old Frenchman Arthur Cazaux, who defeated Dominik Koepfer 7-5 6-2.

“I’ve played a lot of youngsters recently and it’s always tough,” said Murray. “We practised with each other recently so hopefully (there are) not too many surprises.”