Preview: Andy Murray  v Maximilan Marterer | H2H: First Meeting
There is no doubt this is not how Andy Murray wanted to start his season. He pointed the finger firmly on the perceived relaxation of COVID-19 protocols at the National Training Centre in Roehampton, which contributed to a positive test for coronavirus shortly before being due to fly to Australia.
As reported by BBC Sport, Murray said: “When we went to the NTC in April, if there are six indoor courts, you could only practise on one, three and five. There wasn’t any testing at that time, but the gym was closed and it was restricted access.
“Whereas after Christmas you have an indoor venue where they are using all six courts, there were tonnes of people in the gym, and it was just totally different.
“Now it’s kind of back to what it was in April, which is good. It’s a completely different building. All the communal areas are severely restricted, like the lunch hall; there’s probably seven or eight seats maximum in there now, before there would have been 30 to 40.
“But the reality is that it happened too late because there were quite a number of cases between Christmas, New Year and the players going off to Australia.”
It proved to be too much of a logistical challenge to try and arrange to get out to Australia and be able to train adequately to compete in the Australian Open, having been given a wildcard.
As reported by ATPTour.com, Murray told Sky Sports Italia: “Physically I feel pretty good. I’m very grateful they gave me the opportunity to play in this tournament and compete. The reason I came here was to play matches. I believe I still have some really good tennis in me. I know I can compete at the highest level and hopefully I can show that this week.”
Up first will be Maximilian Marterer, who he will be facing for the first time. He has a hefty serve, and favours his forehand from the baseline, with a serve and forehand or even a serve and volley approach to finish off his points.
We have seen Murray work hard to regain his movement which has been always so key to his game, and he will need to be at his counter-punching best. His overall experience should bring him through, but it remains to be seen how rusty he is, and how quickly he is able to adapt.
Prediction: Murray in straight sets.
Murray and Marterer are scheduled on PalaPajetta Court, not before 4pm (3pm GMT).
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