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The San Diego Convo: Andy Murray, back in one of his favorite cities
"When people ask me, ‘What's the favorite places you've been to on tour? Where do you like traveling?’, San Diego was always a place I said I would love to come back to."
Published Sep 28, 2021
Tennis Channel Live: Andy Murray's week in Metz
SAN DIEGO—When Great Britain raised the Davis Cup trophy at the end of the 2015 season, it was the culmination of a remarkable journey that at one point saw the historic tennis nation battling in the depths of the competition's play-offs (Europe/Africa Zone Group II).
One of many important turning points came in February 2014, when an inspired British squad upstaged the United States on a makeshift clay-court at PETCO Park, home of baseball's San Diego Padres. That victory saw Andy Murray celebrate a World Group victory for the first time, and ensured his country would remain in Davis Cup's top tier, ultimately creating a pathway to the crown a year later.
This week, Murray finds himself back in San Diego, this time for a new ATP tournament. The 34-year-old made the trip from Metz, France, where he just reached his first quarterfinal of the season.
Sitting down with TENNIS.com before his opener in Tuesday's night session, the former world No. 1 discusses returning to one the cities he cherishes most, instilling good values in his kids and Adam Peaty’s Strictly Come Dancing odds.
Welcome back to San Diego. You have special ties to this city, with a Davis Cup weekend to remember in early 2014. How does it feel to be back in a place where you have such unique memories to look back on?
MURRAY: First of all, I thought the city was amazing. It's a beautiful city and I'd never been here before. Me and all the team loved it, loved coming here. They did a great job with the location in terms of where the tennis was. It was in the baseball field, I think, and it looked great. James Ward had an amazing win here against Sam Querrey and it was a really nice experience.
When people ask me, ‘What's the favorite places you've been to on tour? Where do you like traveling?’, San Diego was always a place I said I would love to come back to and Vancouver were my two favorites. Nice to be back here again.
This tournament come together in less than two months. When you got that call offering a wild card, was there any specific reason that drew you to play here? Extra matches on outdoor hard courts with Indian Wells in mind? The nostalgia of the city you just spoke about? You just came from Metz, and that's not the easiest trip.
MURRAY: I wanted to come and play here for some of the reasons mentioned. I really liked the city. It was really nice. And then also, because obviously next week in Indian Wells, to get in to play matches on outdoor hard courts and give myself a bit of a chance to acclimatize over here. There was a number of factors.
It's not easy, sort of arriving Sunday night, and it's a quick turnaround, so trying to fight the jet lag a little bit and get over that. But I'm looking forward to playing here. They've had really good crowds, even on the qualifying days. We came in the evening on the Sunday and it was really full, and again here [Monday]. So hopefully there'll be some good atmospheres out there.
This field is stacked—you’ve drawn fellow wild card, Kei Nishikori. You two go way back, though haven't played since 2017 when times were quite different for both of you. How do you see this opportunity as a first-round matchup? (Editor's Note: Nishikori withdrew prior to their scheduled match; Murray defeated lucky loser Denis Kudla, 6-3, 6-2)
MURRAY: He's had his fair share of injury problems as well over the last few years, so he's trying to come back, too. We played each other a lot over the years in some big matches. I remember I lost to him in the US Open. We played in the Olympics, in the semifinals there, Davis Cup matches. Had some great matches with him over the years. Not an easy first round for either of us, but that's kind of what I want. It's a good challenge for me, a good test, and hopefully I can put in a good performance.
Switching gears a bit… someone you respect, Ed Sheeran: This summer, he talked about a lack of motivation after achieving everything he imagined in music by the time he was 28. Once he and his wife welcomed their first child, Ed became concerned that his daughter would eventually see him as someone who was “unemployed,” and the importance of showing her a strong work ethic became a source of inspiration for rediscovering the joy of making music.
Your situation as an athlete is a little different with physical factors having a say, but has this perspective ever crossed your mind during your journey in wanting to inspire your kids to be hardworking and love what they do?
MURRAY: Yeah, I think it's really important to do that. I don't necessarily think I need to be playing tennis. I've always said it'd be nice if they could come along and watch some tournaments and see what it is that I do. Obviously when I'm away from home quite a lot, the eldest ones are starting to understand that a little bit now. To be honest, the things that instill that is the day to day, day in, day out stuff. My wife does a lot of that and has done an incredible job with them. It's not easy having four children, having to clean and feed them, get them to and from school, discipline them and make sure you're teaching them good values as well. I think there's different ways of doing it, but the person who is mainly responsible for that is my wife.
What’s more challenging, coming back from two sets and a break down, or being solely responsible for four kids when the keys are in your hand?
MURRAY: Thankfully, it's not often I'm in charge of all four of them at once, but both can be pretty stressful. I feel with the tennis, I'm a little bit more in control. With four kids, it's not easy. They can run rings ‘round you. You can't keep an eye on all of them. Two was fine, but we've also got two dogs as well. The youngest ones are always trying to jump on the dogs. Yeah, it's tough. I'd probably say that the four kids is harder. Not easy.
To finish on a more lighthearted topic: Adam Peaty. He’s a fellow multiple Olympic gold medalist, fellow Castore ambassador, fellow distinguished Brit. What you don't have in common is taking center stage on the ballroom floor. What are your thoughts on Adam stepping out of his comfort zone into Strictly Come Dancing and how you think he might fare?
MURRAY: I heard he did really well in the first week. I've not seen it. I don't watch the show that much. Quite a few of the athletes have done it over the last few years. I don't think all of them have been great, but a lot of them have been pretty decent. He's certainly a great athlete and unbelievable hard worker, so I'd imagine he would have been training a lot for it. I'm sure he'll be all right. But not something I'll be participating in, I don't think, when I'm finished playing.
On that note, tennis doesn’t exactly have history with translating into that specific competition environment. For several, it just hasn't worked out, though I think only women have stepped up to the challenge so far. Your mom was in the mix as well…
MURRAY: Oh, mum was horrendous, yeah.
Which female players have done it? I saw Radwanska did it, didn't she?
Yes, Aga is probably the outlier of the group. She was impressive. Hingis, Navratilova, and Seles also gave it a go. We know Monfils can really move; would it take someone like him to bring it home?
MURRAY: Gael is very good. I know that. I think Kyrgios likes dancing a bit, although I don't think he shows it that much. I've not been out and partied with lots of the other players, so I don't know which one of them love dancing, but certainly Gael's someone that I'm sure he'd be just fine if he went on a show like that.