Sir Andy Murray is determined to end 2021 with victory at the Schroders Battle of the Brits – Scotland v England tennis spectacular in Aberdeen.
Scottish sporting icon Murray, 34 – a two-time Wimbledon champion, US Open winner and double Olympic gold medallist – is taking the showdown at P&J Live seriously.
Ahead of the team event on December 21 and 22, he told the Press and Journal: “I’m pretty competitive – certainly when it comes to my tennis. It would be nice to win up in Scotland before the new year.
“We never play England-Scotland, so it’ll be good fun.”
‘There will be a lot of trash talk’
Murray reckons Team Scotland – which includes his multiple Grand Slam doubles champion brother Jamie, who is also tournament director, and British number one Cameron Norrie – are going into Battle of the Brits – Scotland v England as marginal favourites.
He said: “In terms of the number one players on each team, Cam has a very good record against Dan Evans recently, I’ve never played against Jack Draper before, and the doubles is obviously tight.
“England have got a good doubles team. Joe Salisbury has been one of the best doubles players in the world this year and won the US Open doubles, beating Jamie in the final. He’s done really well.
“It should be pretty tight in terms of the scorelines and stuff and the matches, which is obviously what we want.
“And there will obviously be a lot of chat, trash talk and stuff in comparison to what you’d see on the main Tour, as everyone on the teams are pretty good friends and pretty close, but also very competitive.
“It should be good fun in that respect.”
16 years on from last Aberdeen match and ‘things have obviously changed a bit’
Murray is considered by many to be Scotland’s greatest ever sportsperson.
However, the lack of ATP Tour events in his homeland means it has been difficult for fans to watch his matches in the flesh.
He’s relishing this chance to experience a uniquely Scottish atmosphere once more, saying: “We don’t get the chance to do it much, but, when we have done, we’ve had some amazing matches, atmospheres.
“During the Davis Cup (in Glasgow), it’s been incredible, especially the matches where I got to play with Jamie, with all of our family in the crowd as well. That’s been really cool.
“Also, when I played with Federer in the event (in a charity exhibition match at the Hydro in 2017), it was brilliant as well.
“Those events have always been extremely well supported and the fans have been great.
“I’m hoping again with the Battle of the Brits they create that same atmosphere.”
Murray admits he can’t remember much about the last time he played in the Granite City.
He twice took part in the Aberdeen Cup at the city’s former Exhibition and Conference Centre, in 2005 and 2006, with the Scottish team winning on both occasions.
The Dunblane ace says he can recall he “played against Greg Rusedski” and “played some doubles as well”, but added: “It was 16 years ago and a lot has happened in my career since then. Things have obviously changed a bit, so it’ll probably be a bit different when I go up there this time around.
“Pretty much every time I’ve gone up to Scotland, the people are unbelievably positive and supportive and always tell me how proud they are of my achievements and stuff. That’s a really nice thing and I don’t mind that.
“At a tennis tournament in the States you get fans like running up, but people just tend to come and have more of a chat, like they know me. I don’t know if that’s a Scottish thing or not. It’s nice.”
Pre-season has been ‘good’
Murray has struggled to play a consistent schedule in recent times. An awe-inspiring return to elite-level tennis following hip resurfacing surgery in 2019 was followed by niggling injuries and the disruption to the game from the Covid pandemic.
However, he played eight straight tournaments at the end of the 2021 season and, having been doing his pre-season work at the All England Club in London, he feels “fresh” ahead of his arrival in the north-east.
Murray, who has been working with a new coach in German Jan de Witt, said: “It’s been good. I obviously didn’t play in the Davis Cup, so I’ve had an extra couple of weeks and got started a bit earlier than a lot of the players that played in that.
“I’m off to Abu Dhabi on Sunday for a week to play in the event there, but also to go a few days earlier and get some outdoor training.
“I’ve obviously just been practising indoors here, but it’s been good so far, I’ve got some good work done and I feel relatively fresh.”
One of the benefits Murray sees in the Battle of the Brits – Scotland v England showdown is it provides high-quality matches against fellow top players in the off-season, something he thinks is “often missing” at this time of year.
It will be a busy few weeks for the tennis hero.
He is delighted to be bringing “world-class tennis to a different part of the country that’s not really had that opportunity” and after his trip to Aberdeen – and a few days off for Christmas – he’ll be heading Down Under on December 27 for the start of the 2022 campaign.
Murray hopes to see Novak Djokovic involved at Australian Open
All of the talk surrounding the first Grand Slam event of the season, the Australian Open in Melbourne, has revolved around the Australian authorities’ demand for all players to be vaccinated against coronavirus.
Murray, who has been in the men’s final at Melbourne Park multiple times, hopes the field is as strong as possible, saying: “I don’t know what the situation is with Novak. The latest I saw was that he was on the entry list, and I assume he’s playing and has been vaccinated.
“But we were told they were the rules – if you want to play, you have to be vaccinated – so I’m assuming that’s what’s happened.
“Ultimately, you want all of the best players to be playing in the biggest events. It’s what makes the events more interesting and he’s also going to try to win and break the record, winning a 21st Slam.
“His record there is phenomenal, so hopefully he’ll be there.”
Tickets for Battle of the Brits – Scotland v England in Aberdeen
For Battle of the Brits – Scotland versus England tickets ahead of the event on December 21 and 22, click here.
The tennis action will be spread across three sessions, with two-time Wimbledon champion, US Open winner and double Olympic gold medallist Sir Andy Murray playing in every session.