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Murray ready to battle a new opponent - Father Time

Andy Murray (above) will be aiming to win the Aegon Championships at the Queen's Club for a third successive year. He faces British No. 4 Aljax Bedene in the round of 32 today.
Andy Murray (above) will be aiming to win the Aegon Championships at the Queen's Club for a third successive year. He faces British No. 4 Aljax Bedene in the round of 32 today.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Andy Murray says he has only a couple of years left at the top of men's tennis, but the world No. 1 has no intention of relaxing just yet as he sets his sights on a third Wimbledon title.

While Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have defied the ageing process to win Grand Slams into their 30s, Murray believes that is the exception rather than the norm.

With that in mind, the 30-year-old knows he must maximise his chances of adding to his haul of three Grand Slam crowns while he is at his peak.

"My coach, Ivan Lendl, was still competitive at the top until he was about 32 but, generally, over the past 20 to 30 years, normally by early 30s is when players have struggled to stay at the top," he told the BBC. "I know some of the players have been doing really well until their mid-30s recently, but that might not be the case with me.

"Maybe the next couple of years are the last few when I have a chance to compete for the Majors and the biggest tournaments."

Fortunately for his hopes of more silverware, he heads into the grass-court campaign back in form after his run to the French Open semi-finals ended a frustrating period marred by problems with injuries and illness.

100 PER CENT

I want to make the most of every tournament I compete in. If I'm going to be away from my family, I'm not going to do that and not do my best.

ANDY MURRAY, world No. 1, on his full commitment to the game as he transcends into his 30s.

The Scot, who has battled shingles, an elbow injury and the flu this year, was beaten by Stan Wawrinka in five sets on the clay at Roland Garros. But he is confident he has rediscovered his rhythm in time to mount a strong defence of the Wimbledon crown he won for a second time last year.

The road to Wimbledon begins across west London at the Queen's Club this week, when Murray will be aiming to win the grass-court event for a third successive year and sixth time in total.

First up for Murray in the opening round is British No. 4 Aljaz Bedene.

Murray beat Bedene in the second round at Queen's last year and if he wins again, he will face either 2010 Queen's champion Sam Querrey or another Briton - wildcard Cameron Norrie - in the last 16.

He is seeded to face France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals and former US Open champion Marin Cilic in the semi-finals, with a potential final against second seed Wawrinka.

Winning at Queen's would be the ideal Wimbledon preparation for Murray, but he knows he must find a way to avoid the fitness issues that have troubled him this year.

"Most of the players are travelling with physios now, spending a lot more time working in the gym to protect their bodies from the kind of pounding you give it on the court as well," he said.

"I don't know how long I'm going to be playing for any more. I want to make the most of every tournament I compete in.

"If I'm going to be away from my family, I'm not going to do that and not do my best."

The notion that he has entered the autumn of his career after accepting a knighthood and turning 30 was always one open to the loosest interpretation, and Nick Kyrgios, for one, thinks the Scot is bluffing.

Kyrgios, the world No. 20, who values the friendship and support of the world No. 1 as he comes to terms with his own volatile development, said after the draw for the Aegon Championships at Queen's on Saturday: "I think he's got more than two years left at the top. He's in unbelievable shape.

"The only thing I can see stopping him from playing is him actually not wanting to play any more, if he's had enough of it. He doesn't strike me as a guy who is going to stop playing. I think he's bluffing."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2017, with the headline 'Murray ready to battle a new opponent - Father Time'. Print Edition | Subscribe