Andy Murray column: Biking around Box Hill, playing the US Open & Battle of the Brits

Andy Murray

Like most people during the lockdown period, I discovered an interest that I’d never really tried before – road cycling.

I had been training at home, in between trying to keep the kids occupied and entertained (not easy), when my father-in-law lent me his spare road bike.

It was a great way to help build my fitness and I enjoyed it, so my wife bought me a bike for my birthday.

I’ve been out quite a bit on routes fairly close to where I live in Surrey ever since. I usually ride for 60-90 minutes and one of my favourite rides is Box Hill, a famous route in the Surrey Hills, where the Olympic cyclists rode during London 2012.

When I’ve been out, I’ve been trying to beat the times I’ve done the week before. It is a nice way to compete against yourself and give you something to aim for. With the tracking apps you can also keep an eye on what your friends are doing too; it’s often a good source of banter.

I’ve also learned that I’m not very good at painting and drawing. The kids are always asking for things to be drawn or to be coloured in. My wife, who is an artist, is clearly very good. I, on the other hand, am horrific, but I’m always happy to try.

While lockdown hasn’t been easy for anyone, it’s been great getting to spend time with the kids and being around them, as I’m usually off competing.

My older two children went back to school a couple of weeks ago, which has been great for them but, as many other parents will appreciate, it is also nice for us too, especially as we were starting to run out of ideas.

‘I want to play a safe US Open – but ‘bubbles’ must be policed’

Playing at a behind-closed-doors US Open is something I intend to do – as long as it is safe.

For me, one of the big issues is around the policing of the ‘bubble’ around the tournament – if that’s what they are doing. What would be the punishment for people who are not sticking to the rules that are put in place?

Imagine the situation where you are at a latter stage of the US Open but someone has gone out of that bubble, broken those rules and gone into Manhattan.

If that is something they shouldn’t be doing and then the virus comes into the bubble, and you’re not able to compete in the quarter-finals or semi-finals of the US Open because of it, you would be extremely frustrated.

How would they police that? I don’t know exactly but that needs to be something which is ironed out.

‘The guys have been chatting – let’s see what happens when the cameras are on’

This week I’m playing matches for the first time since November, as I take part in the ‘Battle of the Brits’ event organised by my brother Jamie. I was planning to play in Miami back in March, before coronavirus struck, to test out my bruised pelvic bone.

Right now I feel pretty good because I’ve had more training under my belt, more practice, whereas in March I’d only been practising for four or five weeks since I’d had the issues in November or December.

After the government eased the restrictions, I went to the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton a few days later. So the middle of May was when I had my first hit there. In the end, I went nine or 10 weeks without hitting.

Going into this week’s tournament, I have played one match since October and no matches in the past seven months. Obviously I have a metal hip which has slowed me down a bit, and I’m the second-oldest player in the draw as well.

The guys in the Whatsapp chat think that I’m just playing my chances down but everything I’ve been saying is true. All these guys are fit, young and were all competing at the beginning of the year.

All of them have been beating me in practice too – I’ve won literally one practice set in the past three weeks since I’ve been practising with all of them.

So there is no reason why they shouldn’t be beating me when the matches start, but we will see! It is always a bit different when the cameras are on.

Andy Murray
On Monday morning, Murray made this sign – quoting some of the barbs fired at him by the other Brits – and put it on his car windscreen. “I had a little bit of time on my hands so I made up a little poster for the car to wind the guys up when they walked out.”

It will be good fun. Everyone has been chatting a lot, Liam Broady in particular. But Dan Evans thinks he is going to win for sure, as does Jack Draper.

As an 18-year-old, he has been practising well, but he’s been doing a lot of talking. When the tournament gets closer, it becomes very real and you need to be able to back it up.

He’s playing against guys such as Cameron Norrie and Evo, who have been playing very high level tennis for a while and it is not easy. It will be really interesting to see how everyone deals with it.

My brother Jamie has set up the event and he’s done a fantastic job in very difficult circumstances. I’m proud of him for sorting all this out.

He was very keen to make sure that if the tournament did get up and running, then a lot of money would be raised for the NHS.

The NHS has done an amazing job in what must have been an unbelievably tough and very stressful time.

The frontline workers have been putting themselves in more danger for our benefit. It is a good way of showing we care about them and appreciate what they do for us.

Andy Murray was speaking to BBC Sport’s Jonathan Jurejko

BBC News

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