Andy Murray flew into New York with a degree of trepidation, but his concerns have eased ahead of the Western & Southern Open.
Initially staying at a house in Greenwich, Murray moved to the hotel a few days ago and has been pleasantly surprised by the work the United States Tennis Association has undertaken to ensure the players’ stay is as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The USTA have done, in my opinion, an excellent job of setting everything up. They’ve done a really good job at the hotel, They got games and arcades and things like that, which I enjoy. [I’m] still a bit of a child in that respect. They’re putting on different food in the evenings for the players. We can get delivery. [The] room is absolutely fine. You have a gym there. I had considered staying in a house.
“I would say going into the hotel was a little bit of a concern. Then when you get in there and you see everything that they’re doing to make sure it’s as safe as it can be, then I felt quite relaxed. Since I got in, I’ve been tested twice. There’s security, not just at the hotel, but on the site, making sure that everybody has their masks on. There’s hand sanitizer everywhere… I feel comfortable now that I’m here. But I did have some, I guess, concerns beforehand.”
Murray plays wild card Frances Tiafoe in the first round, with fifth seed Alexander Zverev waiting in the second round. After a five-month suspension of the ATP Tour, the 2008 Western & Southern Open champion believes there may be a number of surprising results over the next week.
“I do feel there will be a lot of upsets,” said Murray. “Usually there’s a little bit more time to get used to the conditions… It’s just going to be different playing in front of no fans. I kind of felt that a little bit yesterday when I was walking through the grounds. It’s nice walking through to your practice courts, not getting stopped or anything, but then the atmosphere is just not the same without the people.”
The 33-year-old Murray, who underwent right hip surgeries in 2018 and 2019, is simply happy to be back on the ATP Tour.
“I’m looking forward to it, just to be back competing again. I’ve really enjoyed the past few days just practising with top players, which I’ve kind of done it a little bit back home but not that much… I’ve been practising. I practised with [Dominic] Thiem, [Andrey] Rublev and [Karen] Khachanov… But I’m feeling quite good on the court physically in terms of my hip.
“For me to know exactly how my body feels after playing a competitive match will be important for me. If I did well and got a few matches, that would suggest my body is probably feeling quite good. If I didn’t do well, my body wasn’t great, it would suggest I probably need to do some work in the sort of eight, nine days before the [US Open] starts. I think it would just give me more kind of information. I’ll be able to learn a little bit more about where I’m at, maybe things I need to work on, things I need to practise and stuff.”