Team GB’s Andy Murray says he knows he is no longer a “favourite” for Olympic gold, but is hoping experience will make a difference at Tokyo 2020.
The reigning champion is the only tennis player to have ever won more than one Olympic singles title, but faces a tough opener when he takes on Canada’s ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime on Sunday.
Murray will also team up with Joe Saisbury in the doubles, but his draw is not much kinder there either, as the pairing will begin against second seeds Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
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Britain’s three-time Grand Slam champion has been hampered by niggly injuries ever since he had a hip resurfacing, leaving him ranked outside of the world’s top 100 and unseeded in Tokyo, but Murray has told Eurosport expert and London 2012 long jump gold medallist Greg Rutherford that he can make up for that in other ways.
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“I feel pretty good, it’s a tough first match,” he said.
Conditions here are brutal, it’s the same for everyone but I think experience wise, this is the fourth Olympics for me, I need to try and use that to my advantage. I’ve made sure I’ve done all of the preparation to get used to the heat and the conditions, with a lot of training in basically steam rooms.
“I got a lot of sleep before I got out here to help a bit with that. I know what it can be like to compete at a first Olympics - it can be a bit overwhelming at times so I need to try and use that to my advantage.
“Success is getting a medal. Coming into Rio or London, I would have been one of the favourites to win a medal, not necessarily to win a gold. This time around I don’t think that’s the case on paper, but for me personally, winning a medal would be a success.”
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While tennis is missing many of its biggest stars, like Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, Murray says the opportunity to compete at the Olympics - with or without coronavirus restrictions - is a chance he will never turn down.
“I just like being part of a team. It’s something I enjoyed when I was a kid but in tennis, it’s an individual sport and that’s the sport I happen to be good at.
I’ve never really been part of a team and when I have been, it’s been with the Olympic and Davis Cup teams in tennis and I’ve always loved it.
“I love sport so I enjoy speaking to any of the athletes,” said Murray, when he was asked if he would be willing to offer advice to anyone who needs it.
“Yesterday, we were sitting having lunch with some of the boxers, which was fun. It’s slightly different this year, because of coronavirus, I guess not everyone’s together as much.
“When we mix it can all be behind plastic dividers and stuff and you have to book the gym out so you’re not always in the gym with lots of different sports.
“I love chatting to all of the other athletes, I just like being part of a team.”
Murray is fully invested in the team, but admits there was one home comfort he can not avoid packing in his bag when he goes away: “I brought two bags of Skittles with me, I’ll go for that...or some sort of Haribo sometimes.”
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