Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

US Open: Andy Murray still on golden Olympic high

Andy Murray believes his victory at the Olympics has given him more confidence

Andy Murray says that "a week in sport can be quite a long time". No sooner are you basking in the glow of a tournament victory than you are answering questions in another city, perhaps on another continent, about a first-round defeat.

Whatever happens in the future, however, Murray knows that he will always be remembered as a player who won an Olympic title in front of his home crowd. The golden glow has yet to dim and was evident in his on-court interview after he had beaten Alex Bogomolov in the first round of the US Open here on Monday night. When the interviewer mentioned the Olympics, the crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium burst into warm applause and Murray wore a smile that stretched from ear to ear.



There have been other reminders here of his golden moment earlier this month. "You do get treated slightly differently," Murray said. "When I went up to the hotel they had a chocolate gold medal with 'London Olympics' on it.



"I had a cameraman – I have no idea who he was working for – waiting outside the hotel the other day. At first he congratulated me on the gold medal and then asked me whether I had seen the pictures of Prince Harry yet and what I thought of the crown jewels. I'm not used to having people hanging about outside my hotel in New York. I actually did say: 'No comment.' That was my answer and then I ran away."



Some of the attention may be unwanted, but Murray said he knew immediately after his victory at the All England Club that "everything you've gone through as a player was worth it because it was the biggest win of my career by far".



He explained: "I've had many tough losses. I've played tennis properly since I moved over to Spain when I was 15, so for about 10 years. I've had a lot of doubts after losing. Even after the Wimbledon final a few weeks previously, you have a lot of doubts about yourself. But after winning a match like that you forget about all of those things. It's definitely, definitely worth all the hard work."



In terms of his tennis, Murray believes that the Olympic victory has given him more confidence. That was evident in the way he dealt with his own erratic serving display in hot, humid and windy conditions against Bogomolov. Murray never looked in danger of losing as he booked a place in the second round against Croatia's Ivan Dodig, the world No 118.



Dodig has beaten both Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the past 13 months but, after struggling with a back problem, the 27-year-old has dropped 86 places in the world rankings since October.



"He's a big guy who serve and volleys a lot, especially on his first serve," Murray said. "He's a very good athlete. He moves really well. On a hard court he can pretty much do the splits. He's very flexible and a tough guy to play against because he's very unorthodox."



Murray added: "He can get very deep in the court and can play a long way back. That's why he tries to serve and volley quite a lot. He gets further and further back and can get pushed around a little bit. Maybe he's the one who has to do more running, so that will be one of the plans – to keep him on the move."



Laura Robson, who teamed up with Murray to win mixed doubles silver in London, is also through to the second round here after a 6-3, 7-6 victory over Samantha Crawford, a 17-year-old American. She will now play Kim Clijsters, who will retire at the end of this tournament. The Belgian, 29, has won the US Open three times and has not lost a match here for nine years.



Clijsters and Robson have practised together and the Belgian has followed the 2008 Wimbledon junior champion's career with interest. "She's a great ball-striker," Clijsters said. "I felt when she came on tour she was still able to improve a lot physically.



"When she's behind the ball, she hits the ball so clean and has a very good eye for the ball as well. It's going to be very important to be going for the lines and to try to get her out of her comfort zone a little bit."