Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Murray named as Madrid Open wildcard in clay-court season U-turn

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Andy Murray has reversed his decision to skip the entire clay-court season after being confirmed as a wildcard entry for the Madrid Open.

The 34-year-old Scot, who has been on the practice court in Florida with coach Ivan Lendl, had initially considered sitting out all matches on the surface as he plots his course through the rest of 2022.

However, he has now changed his plans and will be in action in the Spanish capital next week, with the tournament running from Tuesday until Sunday, May 8.

The three-time grand slam winner is eager to play competitively ahead of the grass-court season.

It is understood he has been practicing on clay and feeling comfortable.

He could also enter the Italian Open, which begins on May 2, but remains unlikely to feature at the French Open, which starts 20 days later, before returning to the UK to prepare for grass.

Former world number one Murray, who has battled back from career-saving hip surgery, previously said clay had exacerbated injury issues and almost caused him to miss last year’s Wimbledon.

Speaking in February, he said: “Right now I am not planning on playing through the clay.

“The past couple of years, the clay has made issues worse; last year I had some issues at the beginning of the year, the clay didn’t help, so I’ve spoken to my team about that and this year, while I feel good and healthy, I don’t want to take that risk .

“It’s not that I wouldn’t potentially play on clay in the future. Last year I almost missed Wimbledon, was close to not playing the grass season, I’m not planning on playing the clay. I will still try to compete a bit during that period, I won’t do nothing, that’s my plan just now.

“I had a busy end of last year and the next couple of months I won’t take any risks and hopefully get a good build-up to the grass season.”

Murray has lost in the second round in his last six tournaments, including to world number two Daniil Medvedev at the Miami Open late last month.

He recently reunited with coach Lendl. The pair are working together for the third time, with each of Murray’s grand slam triumphs having come under the guidance of the 62-year-old.

Murray, ranked 83rd in the world, had been searching for a new coach after splitting from Jamie Delgado – who is now working with Denis Shapovalov – in December.

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