Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Murray Became Stronger after Loss; Nadal Inspired a Fitness Drive

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Murray Became Stronger after Loss; Nadal Inspired a Fitness Drive

Article excerpt

ANDY Murray has revealed how last year's Wimbledon exit at the hands of Rafael Nadal turned him into one of the fittest players in the world, writes PHIL CASEY.

Murray had already made great strides with his fitness by the time he faced Nadal in the quarter-finals 12 months ago, but was left in no doubt there was still more hard work to be done.

Nadal powered his way to a 6-3 6-2 6-4 victory on Centre Court and sent Murray scampering to Miami to put in long hours in the gym and on the track.

That decision paid huge dividends, with Murray going on to win his first Masters series title in Cincinnati and reach his first grand slam final at the US Open. And significantly, the 22-year-old beat Nadal in the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows, inflicting the Spaniard's first defeat as world number one.

"Beating Richard Gasquet in the fourth round last year was a great match to be involved in, but I lost to Nadal comfortably in the next round," Murray explained.

"I actually went away for three or four weeks after that and trained really, really hard over in the States, down in Miami in really warm conditions. I realised that I was in good shape then, but I lost to someone like Rafa, who's probably one of the best athletes to ever play tennis (and) I needed to improve that side of my game.

"It was after Wimbledon I pushed on. I just learned a lot from the loss to Rafa. I realised I needed to get fitter and stronger. I went away and worked on it."

Murray comes into Wimbledon as one of the favourites for the title, especially with Nadal out through injury and after winning his first tournament on grass at Queen's Club earlier this month. But although that means he has already managed something Tim Henman never managed in his entire career, the Scot believes his run to the US Open final is more significant.

"The US Open was much bigger than winning at Queen's, just because it's the first time I'd played seven matches in two weeks," added Murray.

"It's the first time I'd been the whole way in a grand slam. I played a lot of tennis that tournament.

"I had a few long matches early in the tournament and had to deal with things I'd never been through before, rain delays and semis switching courts. …

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