Beaten Australian Open quarterfinalist Andy Murray maintained it would have been ‘stupid’ to expect him to win the title in his first Grand Slam tournament after undergoing back surgery and insisted he was surprised to have progressed as far as the last eight.
Regardless of being reigning Wimbledon champion Murray’s world ranking could drop to sixth or seventh place next Monday when he loses the points for reaching last year’s Australian Open final. Such a fall causes him no concern and instead he is far happier after coming through five Grand Slam matches with no ill effect.
Murray underwent back surgery on September 29 and only played two exhibition matches in Abu Dhabi, two rounds of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha and another exhibition at the AAMI Classic at Kooyong before beginning his Australian Open campaign.
“I’ve come a very long way in just a few months and I wasn’t expecting to come in and win the event; that would have been completely stupid to think that,” said Murray who will now take a couple of days rest before heading to San Diego to lead Britain against the United States in the Davis Cup.
“I don’t know how many players have come back from surgery and won the first Grand Slam back in their second tournament. It’s very unlikely to happen and it’s a very tough thing to do, playing against Roger Federer at that level. Even if I’d won I would have had to play Rafa Nadal in a couple of days.
“Right now I just need to use this as a steppingstone to getting better and be happy that I’ve got through five matches. I’m happy to be playing at a good level just now and, with a few more matches and a bit of training and working on a few things, I’ll hopefully be back to my best at some stage this year.”
Murray has been travelling with back specialist Mark Bender as a permanent member of his support team and although he was philosophical about his 6-3, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 defeat against Roger Federer, he was delighted with the way his fitness held him in good stead for three hours and 20 minutes in such top flight company.
“A lot of work went into this Slam compared with other ones where you have a few weeks to prepare,” he said. “This time I had a long time to prepare, maybe just not enough matches.
“It’s frustrating because it’s basically been four months when I’ve been lying on my back not being able to move or walk.”
Murray does not plan to perform on the ATP World Tour again until February 24 when he plays the contests the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco that has been changed from red clay to hard court. He admits the chosen surface of clay for the Davis Cup in San Diego is not something he will particularly enjoy in the current stage of his fight back to full fitness. “It’s not perfect for rehabbing a back surgery,” he said. “Ideally I’d stay on the same surface.
The 26 year-old Scot is trying to be philosophical about his defeat and continued: “Obviously right now I’m very disappointed. There’s a few things I would have liked to have done differently if I was ever to have surgery again, possibly.
“But it’s the first time I have ever gone through something like that. I thought I did a good job getting myself in good shape to be competitive at this level.
“I wasn’t too far away in the end. With a few things that you can tweak here and there, maybe I could have found a few extra per cent.”