Andy Murray made no secret of it: he was really frustrated after his championship loss to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final.
In his post-match press conference, the Scot spoke with his usual honesty:
“Obviously I had opportunities in the first three sets. Then the fourth set, obviously I need to watch it back to see if I played badly. He was just ripping everything. Returns he was hitting on the baseline, this far from the line all the time. Once he got up a break, he just loosened up and was just going for his shots. I couldn’t recover. So the fourth set wasn’t as frustrating to me. The third set was frustrating because I got a bit distracted when he, like, fell on the ground after a couple of shots. It appeared that he was cramping, and then I let that distract me a little bit. That’s what I’m most disappointed about, not so much the fourth set because I think, especially at the end of it, he was just going for everything, and it was going in. But the third set was more frustrating for me.”
Murray did not stop at that.
Q. Is it a legitimate tactic to maybe make your opponent think you’re injured and then come back flying?
ANDY MURRAY: No, it’s not legitimate. Like I have no idea what the issue was. He obviously looked like he was in quite a bad way at the beginning of the third set and came back unbelievable at the end of that set. Then obviously the way he was hitting the ball in the fourth and moving was impressive. So, yeah, I don’t know exactly what the issue was for him.
Q. Do you think it was a deliberate element to it? At the start of the second and third, looked like he was buckling under.
ANDY MURRAY: I don’t know. I don’t know. I have no idea. I mean, it’s obviously what he thinks. I would hope that that wouldn’t be the case. But, yeah, if it was cramp, how he recovered from it, that’s a tough thing to recover from and play as well as he did at the end. So, yeah, I’m frustrated at myself for letting that bother me at the beginning of the third set, because I was playing well, I had good momentum, and then just dropped off for like 10 minutes and it got away from me. So that’s the most frustrating thing because I thought I obviously had opportunities in the first set. I couldn’t quite get them. I managed to sneak the second. Then obviously was that break up in the third. So, yeah, there was definitely opportunities there.
However, except for this mental lapse, the Scot was satisfied with his tournament overall, after reaching his first Grand Slam final since Wimbledon 2013, and getting back into the top four of the ATP World Tour in the wake:
“It’s pleasing to be back playing close to my best. And it does show that I still feel like I can make improvements in my game. I still think I can get a few percent better over the next couple of months. My job now is to try to maintain this sort of level and form and the way that I was trying to play throughout the event, try to maintain that for the next few months and not sort of have dips in form. I want to try to be more consistent this year and play better in more events.”
Ultimately, at the end of the day, that is just what matters for Andy Murray. He is back to nearly his best level and cannot be counted out of the equation.