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He may admit he will never be the greatest player ever on clay, but Andy Murray knows the summer of his life may turn him into the world No.1.
The Brit arrives fresh at Foro Italico having decided to sit out in Madrid last week. A minor back injury was the official reason but Murray indicated he just wanted a rest – and who can blame him with a potential four months of top class tennis to get through.
The Olympics this year make it an even busier schedule for the world’s elite and Murray is looking to get every advantage possible over Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
“I am pretty good,” he said. “I have taken 10 days off following Barcelona and I started training on Wednesday. I think the injury has fully cleared up – after six days it feels fine. Tennis is a physical sport and we have the French Open, then Wimbledon and then the Olympics and it is only a couple of weeks after that US Open.
“The next four months are going to be tough. They are going to decide pretty much who is going to finish up number one in the world with four major competitions . And that is why everyone is working hard. Every week and every day is important not only for training but also for rest.”
Murray’s week off coincided with the blue clay of Madrid, a faster than usual surface that did not please Djokovic nor Nadal, and the British No.1 is only too pleased to have avoided playing there, as he looks to reach his maiden clay final.
“It was my decision to stop playing,” he said. “Everyone has been plodding on. People have been saying that I was much smarter than they were. Obviously the conditions were not ideal with the French Open just a couple of weeks away.
“It is always a surface on which I struggle but I think last year I had some good results and this year, I think that I am better than at the same stage last year. I think this will help with certain things and being in better shape and being fitter will help get further in the events. I know the surface a lot better and I am playing a lot of good matches – against top guys and do this year I have come in with a lot more confidence.”