Thursday, September 23News That Matters

Andy Murray claims next generation ‘is not particularly close’ to toppling Novak Djokovic

Sir Andy Murray has delivered a downbeat assessment of the challenger generation in men’s tennis and expects the current big names to dominate for some time.

The 33-year-old was so upset at missing the Australian Open after a positive Covid test that he tried to ignore the tournament but believes its results show the young pretenders still have work to do.

‘The younger guys, for me, they’ve not shown that they’re particularly close,’ said Murray, who returns to main ATP Tour action this week in Montpellier.

Andy Murray has delivered a withering assessment of tennis' next generation of talent

Andy Murray has delivered a withering assessment of tennis' next generation of talent

Andy Murray has delivered a withering assessment of tennis’ next generation of talent

Novak Djokovic eased to a ninth Australian Open title in Sunday's final in Melbourne

Novak Djokovic eased to a ninth Australian Open title in Sunday's final in Melbourne

Novak Djokovic eased to a ninth Australian Open title in Sunday’s final in Melbourne

He still believes Daniil Medvedev is probably the pick of the new crop, even though he lost easily to Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final.

‘I expected the final to be closer. But it’s different standing to return or to serve in a Grand Slam final than a quarter-final or a semi.

‘When you’re coming up against someone who’s won 17 of them it’s pretty intimidating.

‘Obviously at the US Open, Dominic Thiem did what he had to do to win the event. But if Novak hadn’t put a ball through the line judge’s throat, it would have been the same outcome I think.

‘The guys have been at the top for so long that they have won on every surface and have been really good on all courts,’ Murray added.

The world No 1 was in imperious form to dismiss Daniil Medvedev (right) in straight sets

The world No 1 was in imperious form to dismiss Daniil Medvedev (right) in straight sets

The world No 1 was in imperious form to dismiss Daniil Medvedev (right) in straight sets

Murray believes the young players aren't close to matching Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer

Murray believes the young players aren't close to matching Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer

Murray believes the young players aren’t close to matching Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer

‘The guys trying to get to those positions don’t necessarily play as well on all of the surfaces, so that reduces the opportunities to potentially win Slams. I didn’t watch any because I wanted to be there myself. It was a struggle to be honest.

‘I stopped following all the tennis players on social media and stuff because I just didn’t really want to see it.’

Murray remains bullish about his own prospects ahead of this latest return to the highest level and was pleased with his progress when he played a Challenger event in Italy earlier this month.

‘Physically in terms of pain I felt good. My hips and stuff were good. I just felt heavy-legged at times during the week but that’s understandable.

‘I play in practice with lots of top players and I know how I get on against them. If I was getting smoked when I was practising I wouldn’t keep going through it.

Murray is due to play Egor Gerasimov of Belarus in an ATP Tour event at Montpellier this week

Murray is due to play Egor Gerasimov of Belarus in an ATP Tour event at Montpellier this week

Murray is due to play Egor Gerasimov of Belarus in an ATP Tour event at Montpellier this week

‘But I know the level I am playing at. I have been practising with players between 20 and 60 in the world and doing absolutely fine.

‘That is off the back of playing hardly any matches over the last couple of years.’

Murray also revealed that, despite recovering from a minor bout of Covid early in January, he is still occasionally testing positive as he sheds the virus.

His first-round opponent this week is Egor Gerasimov of Belarus, ranked 83rd in the world.