Laid-Back Murray Anticipating First Grand Slam Title

Andy Murray was pretty easy-going during his pre-tournament press conference today at the Rogers Cup answering almost every question that reporters wanted to ask him. There was one area that was apparently off limits and that was anything relating to his recent departure from coach Miles MacLagan. Sarah Grossman, the Rogers Cup co-ordinator for communications and media relations, advised us that Andy did not want to answer any questions in that department. Well there goes the first one on my list!

Instead Murray revealed an optimism about the possibility of capturing his first Grand Slam later this summer and how his semi-final result at Wimbledon has encouraged him in that pursuit.

“I want to try and win my first Grand Slam but also the semis at Wimbledon is not a terrible result. It was good for me cause I had a few months since the Australian Open where I hadn’t played so well and playing so well at Wimbledon has definitely given me a confidence boost going into the U.S. stretch.”

Murray talked about his time off since Wimbledon and how it was important for him to take some time away from the game to stay fresh. He took two and a half weeks away from the court and went away on holiday. He returned to practice in Miami for a few days before then playing the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles where he fell to Sam Querrey in the final.

Murray will be pulling double-duty here in Toronto as he is participating in both the singles and doubles draws. He’ll partner with fellow Brit and good friend Ross Hutchins. Deep down I was kind of hoping he’d pair up with Federer to give the Nadal/Djokovic duo some competition in the publicity department. Murray and Hutchins almost defeated the Bryan’s brothers earlier in the year in Monte Carlo, losing in third set champions tie-break. They also played the Rogers Cup a year ago.

Earlier in the afternoon on Saturday Murray took part in a quasi-celebrity match on Center Court with a few Canadian news personalities and a couple of NHL hockey players. At one point he was accidentally hit in the back by a Daniel Nestor serve and re-told the story to us later with good humor.

“It’s typical, I expected it from him – I told him afterwards. I know him really well, we get on pretty well. It’s very mature for a 37 year old.”

Murray sounded sure about his chances this week. He said that coming back to a place where he has played well in the past tends to make him feel confident.

He also spoke about some of the perks that come along with having a higher ranking as opposed to when he first broke onto the ATP Tour.

“You play a lot of your matches on the bigger courts which is an added motivation, it’s nice playing in front of big crowds. Normally you avoid playing the top guys in the world until later in the draw because you got seeded. Obviously sometimes you get byes in the tournament which helps. You get a couple of extra days to practice. There’s a few things that you get, sometimes nicer hotel rooms, it’s a bit easier to get practice courts and things like that. So it definitely helps when you get yourself higher up in the rankings but it takes a lot of work to get there.”

With a tough draw in Toronto it looks like it will be challenging for Murray to repeat, but with all his talent one must think he is due to break through and capture his first title of 2010 at some point.

Murray’s first match will be during the day session on Wednesday where he will face the winner between veteran Xavier Malisse and Michael Berrer.

Photo by Bob McIntyre ©

Let’s spend the night together

I guess the title of the famous Rolling Stones song is what Tommy Haas and Jesse Levine musta thought when they visited the Playboy Mansion and were surrounded by astonishing Playboy models. Hey that’s what I woulda thought anyway. Enjoy the photos!

American Jesse Levine had two important dates Wednesday – one on-court with two-time champion Tommy Haas at the LA Tennis Open, and another earlier in the day with a Playmate at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion.

The 21-year-old Boca Raton resident tweeted on Tuesday: “Pretty pumped for my night match tomorrow night @latennisopen vs Haas. But also pumped for playboy mansion!!!”

Levine joined fellow tennis players Robert Kendrick, Ryan Sweeting and Ross Hutchins at the famous mansion in nearby Holmby Hills, where they were greeted by May 2006 cover girl Alison Waite. The Playmate gave the ATP players a personal tour, providing historical information about the Mansion and Hugh Hefner while escorting them around the lavish 5.3 acre estate.

In addition to visiting the garden and the tennis courts on the grounds, the players took photos with birds in the zoo and tried out the pinball machine in the game room. They were most intrigued, however, by the famous grotto and asked Waite for details of what happened there. They finished the visit with a photo in front of the Playboy Mansion.

“It was a lot of fun to see a place we often get to watch on TV,” said Levine. “It was a really nice opportunity for us tennis players. It’s not like people get to check out the Playboy Mansion everyday, so it was a fun activity.”

Photo Credit: Cynthia Lum