Andy Murray is likely to forever be known as the Briton who broke the curse.
After all, before he won Wimbledon in 2013, it had been 77 years since a British male had captured the most revered piece of silverware in the sport. However, nearly two years have passed since that momentous occasion, and they haven’t been all that kind to the 27-year-old Scot. The 2013 season ended prematurely due to back surgery. And while Murray was able to play a full slate of tournaments during his comeback in 2014, that campaign is mostly notable for a significant coaching change, as opposed to any major titles.
But 2015 looks much more promising. Murray opened the year with a runner-up finish at the Australian Open, and he’ll assume the World Number 3 ranking on Monday. This encouraging start suggests that Andy is once again ready to challenge for major trophies like the one he lifted on the grass at SW19 in 2013.
Right now though, the focus is on capturing the title at the Miami Open presented by Itaú, an ATP Masters 1000 event. On Tuesday, he defeated Kevin Anderson to earn his 500th Tour victory, then took down Dominic Thiem on Wednesday in the quarterfinals. Soon after, he spoke with Rolling Stone about reaching that recent milestone, dealing with trolls on Twitter and planning the perfect wedding.
Congratulations on joining the ATP’s 500 wins club. If I asked you to pick your three favorite wins out of those 500 – taking out the obvious ones (the two Slam wins and the Olympic gold medal match) – what would they be?
I remember the first one very well, because I was only 18 at the time. It was at Queen’s in London, so I was playing in front of a home crowd. It was a tournament that I’d been to the last few years to kind of watch and practice with some of the players.
Also, winning my first event, which was in San Jose in 2006. I beat Lleyton Hewitt in the final, 7-6 in the third set. That one stands out to me because, you know, I was playing against a great player in the final. I didn’t have a coach with me that week. I was only 18 at the time, so to win 7-6 in the third it was obviously an extremely tough match. That one meant a lot.
Third one, I’d say maybe losing the first Wimbledon final to Roger [Federer, in 2012]. That’s another one that stands out a lot to me. One that I remember very well. I was obviously extremely emotional after that match, and that was probably one of my toughest, toughest matches, although that wouldn’t be a win. It’s still a match that sticks out a lot to me.
Your last Masters 1000 title was in Miami two years ago; what is it about these Masters titles that makes them so hard to come by?
I mean, it’s tough. I think that with the three-set format, if you are off on a day, you don’t have as much time to turn matches around. The other day, Novak [Djokovic] was playing against [Alexandr] Dolgopolov and he just managed to turn that around in time. He was down 7-6 and 4-1, and won the match. Whereas in a Slam, even if Dolgopolov wins that second set, Novak has more time to get himself back into the match.
Also, not necessarily at Indian Wells or Miami, but at most of the other Masters 1000s, you play pretty much every single day. You play five days in a row, and that’s obviously tough for a number of reasons. You don’t have as much time to recover. If you aren’t playing particularly well at the beginning of the event, you don’t have a rest day where you can practice and work on things. You are what you are when you start the event.
It feels like you are one of the few ATP guys who watches women’s tennis as an actual fan – you tweet during matches, you’re checking out up-and-coming players. How long have you been a fan of women’s tennis?
I would say always. I feel like I’m more a fan of tennis rather than it being men’s or women’s. I enjoy watching doubles as well when it’s on. I think that there are certain players that I enjoy watching on the men’s and women’s side. There’s some players that I don’t enjoy watching on both sides. I enjoy watching Serena [Williams] play, I enjoy watching [Agnieszka] Radwanska, [Maria] Sharapova. And right now there’s a lot of young, up-and-coming players. I like watching someone like a Madison Keys, for example, at the Australian Open, where she’s just really going for shots and playing fearless tennis. I like watching the girls who can hit the ball extremely hard and serve well. If it’s not that, I like the ones that have a different style, you know, more variety; using drop shots and coming to the net. That’s one of the things I like about Radwanska. I just enjoy watching tennis. And there’s things that you can learn from the men’s and the women’s game.
You know, one of the things that a lot of people like to talk about are the emotions, that women on the tour are more emotional than the men, and I completely disagree with that. There are differences between men and women obviously, but when you look at some of the players on the women’s side, like Sharapova and [Eugenie] Bouchard, both on the Top 10. For me, they’re extremely stable mentally and emotionally on the court, compared with you know, even myself. I’m emotionally quite up and down on the court, so there’s things that you can learn and appreciate in life and from both sides.
Just so you know, I recently asked Madison Keys to rank her favorite players, and you came in at number three.
Oh really? That’s good. I’ll try to get to number one on her list one day [laughs].
You had a very interesting and thoughtful exchange with a “fan” on Twitter last week. We know by now that most public figures get heaps of abuse online, yet you seem very proactive in engaging some of these individuals who don’t have the nicest things to say.
Yeah, there are obviously some people who use the Internet and social media to actually just abuse people. And if you look at the things that they say, they could be saying it to me, and then they’re saying it to 10 other people, and that’s all they do during the day. There’s some people that are, you know, sort of fans or you know, enjoy watching you play and actually want the best for you. But they don’t see all of the things that you do.
For example, after a match, a guy was basically saying that my serve was terrible and, you know, “Go and watch Roger and Novak and learn from them how to serve.” And when you actually speak to them about it and you sort of say, “Well, look, I work on my serve all of the time. I spend hours and hours every week working on it to try to get it better. But just because I don’t do it in a match it doesn’t mean that I’m not doing it.” I think a lot of times fans, they just see you on the match court. They don’t see you training, or what you actually do away from the court. I think if they actually saw everything that went into it, and the hours you spent preparing for the tournaments, they would see how much you care, how much you want to win, and how much you want to improve.
And actually, in my opinion, [engaging with the fan on Twitter], it went really well. I’ve done it a couple of times before. But you can sort of help the person understand what it is you’re going through. Or why maybe something isn’t going as well as you would like. That was basically the reason for doing it. It’s more that he was starting to get more and more harsh, really. Borderline abusive. So just sort of explaining to them that, you know, we are actually people. You wouldn’t just talk to someone at your own work like you’re talking to us. It’s not how you engage, or talk, or try to help people.
Everyone’s free to do whatever and say whatever they want. But if you’re a fan, and you actually want to help the person, abusing them is not the best way to do it.
You are getting married in a week-and-a-half. What have been your specific contributions to the wedding planning?
The one thing that I really wanted to do was be involved with the food. Because I like my food – I like good food. I went along and did the food tasting, and I also did the cake tasting as well. So that would be the thing that I would say I have been most involved in. The music is something we chat about together as well. In terms of flowers and color schemes and those sorts of things, I couldn’t really care less about that, to be honest [laughs]. I think in a lot of cases it’s just better to let the woman have it how she would like.