Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 25 January 2015

Shanghai Masters: Murray-Djokovic practice pulls in the crowds

Andy Murray of Britain stands in front of the Bund, a famous waterfront as the symbol of town, during an event ahead of the Shanghai Masters tennis tournament in Shanghai, China, Sunday Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

One of the biggest crowds here at the Shanghai Masters yesterday was for a practice session on an outside court. While first-round matches were being played in front of a modest sprinkling of spectators in the main stadium, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic practised together in front of hundreds of excited fans in readiness for their first matches today.

"They're very enthusiastic," Murray said of the supporters. "They're very passionate. They get very excited around the practice courts. A lot of people come and are at the hotel.

"They love their tennis here. Normally towards the end of the week they get excellent crowds for the matches. I've always had nice support here."

Murray faces Florian Mayer, the world No 25, in his opening match. The Scot, who beat the 29-year-old German in their only previous meeting in Rome last year, is feeling in good shape after reaching the semi-finals of the Japan Open last week in his first tournament since winning the US Open.

While the world No 1 ranking is a long-term goal, Murray is focusing more on playing well here and at the three other tournaments he plans to compete in before the end of the year. "I think getting to No 1 in the world is more a reward for playing very good tennis throughout the whole season at pretty much every tournament you play," he said.

Britain's Laura Robson made a winning start at the Japan Open in Osaka, which is probably her last tournament of the year. She beat Greece's Eleni Daniilidou 6-4, 6-2.

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