Home factor lifts Murray’s grass hopes

Frank Dalleres
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Andy Murray is targeting a second Wimbeldon crown
BRITAIN’S Andy Murray is hoping that a welcome return to home comforts inspires him to success in a landmark grass-court season that gets underway today at Queen’s Club.

Murray estimates that he has spent just “nine or 10” nights in his own bed this year, having sacrificed a lengthy honeymoon in April in favour of flying to Barcelona to prepare for the clay campaign.

That move paid off, with the 28-year-old winning his first titles on the surface and reaching the semi-finals of the French Open, where he took world no1 Novak Djokovic to five sets.

The next month or so promises even more – a fourth Aegon Championships title, a second Wimbledon crown and a home Davis Cup tie against France – and all near the Surrey home he shares with new spouse Kim Sears.

“I always look forward to it,” he said. “I’ve only spent, I think, nine or 10 days in my own bed this year whereas now with the extra week of the grass court season and the Davis Cup afterwards I’m going to be at home for six weeks.

“So it’s a nice part of the season in that respect. Obviously there’s some extra pressure and stress and expectation that comes with this part of the year but I’ve always enjoyed it.”

Murray plays his first match on grass since last year’s shock Wimbledon quarter-final defeat to rising star Grigor Dimitrov when he faces world No65 Lu Yen-Hsun at Queen’s.

He arrives buoyed by a hugely encouraging stint on his least favoured surface and having now recovered from an illness that left his eye closed up and bookended a gruelling few weeks.

“It’s the best clay court season I’d ever had, so it was almost a shame to get off, but I always enjoy coming onto the grass,” he added.

“It’s a surface where I feel the transition for me happens a lot quicker than from the hard courts to the clay – that takes me a number of weeks before I feel comfortable, whereas coming onto the grass I just enjoy it.

“I feel I move well on this surface and I’m looking forward to getting going.”

Other first-round ties slated for today at the Aegon Championships include recently crowned French Open winner Stanislas Wawrinka facing highly-rated Australian youngster Nick Kyrgios, who stunned former world No1 Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon last year.

Nadal himself, who is commencing his grass court season at the west London tournament for the first time since 2011, is due to meet Ukrainian No1 Alexander Dolgopolov.