ATP

Murray hoping to face Djokovic, Nadal & Federer again

By Sports Desk September 12, 2019

Former world number one Andy Murray said he would love to play Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer before they retire, but only if he is capable of beating the 'Big Three'.

Murray looked set to retire following January's Australian Open, however, the three-time grand slam champion is on the comeback trail after hip resurfacing surgery.

The 32-year-old – who dropped down to ATP Challenger level to take part in the Rafael Nadal Open having skipped the US Open – is set to feature at the Shanghai Masters after accepting a wildcard.

Murray will spend a couple of weeks in the Far East, competing in the Zhuhai Championships and China Open as he eyes next year's Australian Open following a brief ATP Tour singles return in August.

Asked about renewing his battle with Djokovic, Nadal and Federer, Murray – who has played doubles this year to build his fitness – said: "I look forward to doing it if, physically, I am capable of competing with them.

"I don't look forward to going on the court against one of those guys and not feeling like I have a chance of winning which, if I played them tomorrow, that's how I would feel.

"When I practised with Novak in Australia at the beginning of this year, I found that hard, even though it was just practice. I felt terrible and I found that quite hard.

"If I'm able to compete against them and feel like I can win, even if it's a really small chance, then I will enjoy that, for sure. But, not feeling like I can be competitive and getting pumped, I probably wouldn't enjoy that."

Murray – now ranked 415 in the world – added: "I need matches just now. My body needs to build up some level of robustness. That's the reason for entering the [four straight] tournaments.

"And if I'm not getting matches [because of early defeats in each event] I'm at least around, practising with top players, getting my body more used to the speed and things."

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    Rafael Nadal was sad to suffer defeat to Dominic Thiem at the Australian Open, but insisted he was satisfied with his performance, as well as his attitude, in the quarter-final clash.

    Thiem beat Nadal for the first time in six attempts at a grand slam with a tense 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 7-6 (8-6) win in four hours and 10 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

    The Austrian progresses to meet Alexander Zverev in the semi-final on Friday, while the world number one is left to reflect on a missed opportunity to draw level with Roger Federer on 20 major titles.

    But Nadal had few complaints after the loss, praising Thiem as a worthy winner.

    "He's playing great," the 33-year-old said of Thiem. "He's playing with a lot of energy, aggression, determination. So just well done to him.

    "I honestly didn't play a bad match, no, no. My attitude was great during the whole match. 

    "Of course, I am sad. I lost an opportunity to be in the semi-finals of another grand slam. But I lost against a great opponent and he deserved it too.

    "[I was] good, positive, fighting spirit all the time, giving myself more chances. That's what I tried. I did not give up in one moment during the whole match and gave myself an opportunity until the last point.

    "Happy for that because my level of concentration and tennis was better. I think the concentration was even better than the tennis, but the tennis was not bad at all."

    Nadal, who had 49 winners to 33 unforced errors and converted four of his nine break points, found the conditions difficult at times.

    The Spaniard added: "It was difficult to play against him. [I'm] happy, but I need a little bit more determination in some moments - it's true that in some moments conditions have been a little bit heavy.

    "Honestly, when the ball was new for me, I was better. I had two breaks and I felt more comfortable with the new balls.

    "Then the ball became so heavy. He's younger, he's very quick. With these heavy balls, it's difficult to produce winners sometimes. He has a lot of power, so he's able to produce these amazing shots from a very difficult position."

    Nadal, who only lost five fewer points than Thiem across the match, was asked if he felt there was any more he could have done to find a way to win.

    "Yes - win any tie-break!" he said. "But that's how it works. Sometimes things are not going the way that you would like. It has been a very good match with a good level of tennis.

    "I had a big chance with 5-3 in the first. I had set point serving. That was a very important moment of the match, for sure. Then I didn't play a good tie-break. I was back in the second set, but he played with the right determination.

    "He played great matches against me in the past too, great quality tennis. We like each other in terms of character - I like his attitude and probably he likes mine too! 

    "We have things that we can compare with each other in some ways and I wish him all the very best for the rest of the tournament."

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    2010 US Open semi-final: Djokovic [3] bt Federer [2] 5-7 6-1 5-7 6-2 7-5

    Flushing Meadows was Federer's playground for five straight years until 2009, when he was stunned by Juan Martin del Potro in the final. To this point, he had dominated Djokovic, too. But the Serbian managed to save two match points in a thrilling five-setter to win in almost four hours in a victory that would – even with Federer only 29 years of age – bring suggestions the Swiss maestro was on the decline.

    2011 French Open semi-final: Federer [3] bt Djokovic [2] 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-5)

    By the time they met at Roland Garros the following year, Djokovic was a heavy favourite after incredibly winning his first 41 matches of 2011, including a second major title at the Australian Open. But Federer would end that run, wagging his finger after his stunning four-set victory. The year would still belong to Djokovic, and not before more drama against Federer.

    2011 US Open semi-final: Djokovic [1] bt Federer [3] 6-7 (7-9) 4-6 6-3 6-2 7-5

    Having recovered from two sets down to force a decider, Djokovic reeled off the final four games and saved two match points to shock Federer, and the way he saved the first lives long in the memory. Djokovic crushed a forehand cross-court return winner that John McEnroe would describe as "one of the all-time great shots", one which even Federer struggled to accept. Djokovic would go on to win his third major of 2011.

    2014 Wimbledon final: Djokovic [1] bt Federer [4] 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 5-7 6-4

    Djokovic. Federer. All England Club. Wimbledon final. They are words sports fans dream of. Federer was in his first major decider since 2012, while Djokovic had lost his previous three grand slam finals – one to Andy Murray and two to Rafael Nadal. Federer would produce the comeback this time, coming from 5-2 down and saving a match point in the fourth to force a decider. But just as Federer looked the more likely winner, Djokovic stepped up to win a seventh major crown. The pair combined for 143 winners and just 56 unforced errors in a match Djokovic labelled the "best quality grand slam final" he had played in.

    2019 Wimbledon final: Djokovic [1] bt Federer [2] 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3)

    Fast forward five years and they met again, and they delivered once more on the biggest stage. Federer would be left to rue missed chances after a battle lasting four hours, 57 minutes – the longest singles final in Wimbledon history. Djokovic saved two match points at 8-7 in the fifth set before a match tie-break followed, the first in singles in the tournament's history. Djokovic would go on to win a 16th grand slam title, moving a little closer to Federer's all-time men's record total of 20.

  • Australian Open 2020: Majestic Thiem dumps out Nadal to reach semi-finals Australian Open 2020: Majestic Thiem dumps out Nadal to reach semi-finals

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    Thiem had never reached the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park before this week, but will face Alexander Zverev in the last four after coming through a huge, tense battle on a warm Wednesday evening.

    Top seed Nadal had disagreements with chair umpire Aurelie Tourte as his hopes of winning a 20th grand slam title were ended in a pulsating contest.

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