Andy Murray has warned Matteo Berrettini he is getting fitter with age before he seeks Grand Slam revenge at the Australian Open. The big-serving Italian won a four-set battle in New York in September – his third consecutive victory over the Scot. The former world No.1 has still to get beyond the third round in a Major with his metal hip and lost his only ATP Tour match this year in Adelaide.
But Murray, 35, warned he is now in a “better place” before their re-match Down Under after an off-season working on his game with his coach Ivan Lendl. “Obviously a tough draw,” said the five-time Australian Open finalist. “But I also feel like I’m in a much better place than where I was during any of the Slams last year coming into it.
“I know how I feel today in comparison to where I felt going into the US Open and I’m playing better, physically I’m in a better place. I think certainly from four or five years ago I didn’t expect that I would still be playing at this level and maybe still feeling like I can improve from where I’m at when I was 35, 36 years old.
“I feel well prepared, I feel ready to play a top player early in the event whereas maybe last year at times my game didn’t feel that great and getting a difficult draw, a tough match early in the tournament didn’t felt great. I feel like I’m in a better place this time to deal with that. Obviously the matches you play against players you’d hope you would learn stuff from them and take things away from it that will help you going into the next one. Hopefully I’ll be able to do that.”
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Asked what has made the difference to him, world No.49 Murray added: “Some changes to my game. A good period of practice gave me some time to work on some things and improve some things. My movement and stuff are significantly better than what it would have been at this stage last year. When I move well I tend to play well and that’s really important for me. That’s probably been the thing I’ve been happiest about. The conditions are playing pretty fast here so when the conditions are quick it’s even more important to be light on your feet and moving well. I think that’s been the biggest improvement.”
It is four years since Murray broke down in his pre-tournament press conference and announced his hip injury would force him to quit. The Australian Open even played a video tribute after he lost his first round match to Roberto Bautista Agut.
Now playing with a metal hip, he said: “I don’t feel like right now is a time for reflection for me. I’m looking to the future and how I can get the best out of my game and my body and try and achieve the best results possible.