Wimbledon champion Andy Murray was happy with his movement if not the result after making a losing return from 15 weeks on the sidelines at the Mubadala Championship,an Abu Dhabi exhibition tournament this week.
The 26-year-old world number four called an early end to his 2013 season after playing a Davis Cup tie in mid-September to have surgery on his lower back. Murray has been trying to lower expectations as he begins his comeback from injury and was not too concerned at losing his first match in the Mubadala world tennis championships event at Zayed Sports City.
I moved well in the first set,especially once I got into the rallies, he told the National newspaper after a 7-5 6-3 defeat to French world number 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Thursday.
I didnt feel slow at all. In the second,I slowed down slightly,but thats something that is going to get better by playing matches. I cant expect to feel great for long periods of matches straightaway.
But it was a good workout. You want to play your best,but you need to be realistic and patient. I will play better tomorrow than I did today.
I was hitting the ball okay,moving well for the most part. Moving is the most important thing. I just need to be able to do it for a longer period. I just felt like I hadnt played a match for a while.
Murray missed this years French Open due to a back injury but recovered in time to become the first British man to win Wimbledon for 77 years.
The Scot lost his U.S. Open title in a quarter-final defeat to Stan Wawrinka and then played in Britains world group playoff against Croatia before deciding to have the operation.
He has spent the intervening months in Florida recuperating and will make his return to the ATP tour at next weeks Qatar Open in Doha.
Some parts of it were nice. I got to spend a lot of time at home,which is something we dont get to do much, he said of the layoff.
It wasnt that difficult for me,mentally,to be sitting because it wasnt like I was playing one day and twisted my ankle and couldnt play or my back just went one day. I feel fresher.
fitness more important
Staying fit is more important to Rafa Nadal in 2014 than adding to his 13 grand slam titles,the world number one said.
Spaniard Nadal had one of the best seasons of his career in 2013 following his return in February after seven months out with a knee injury,winning 10 tournaments including a record eighth French Open crown and a second U.S. Open title.
As he gears up for the start of the 2014 tour,the 27-year-old Mallorcan told Spains As newspaper remaining healthy and being able to challenge at the top level were his priorities.
What I want is to be able to start the year well and in shape to compete in the big tournaments, Nadal said.
In that sense,and thinking about 2014,I am not going to talk at the moment about winning the ninth Roland Garros or winning Wimbledon again,which would be the third time.
No,look: what is important to me is to maintain my fitness in a way that will allow me to play the whole year,and competing at a good level. You see its not easy: I couldnt do that,for the whole season,in 2012,2013.
Nadals 10 titles last season came close to matching the best year of his career,when he won 11 in 2005,including his first Roland Garros crown.
He said his enforced rest in the second half of 2012 had meant he was fresh and hungry on his return and that was possibly why he had been so successful in 2013. In terms of results,I dont know if 2013 was the best year of my career, Nadal said.
What made it special was the feeling of being able to compete again at the level I managed. But certainly 2013 was the most emotional of my career.
If you ask me about the key elements of what happened I think I started playing when I was fresher than ever after a seven-month rest. That may have been the key to the successes (of 2014).
Nadal will get his next crack at a grand slam when the Australian Open starts in Melbourne in mid January. He is playing compatriot and world number three David Ferrer at Mubadala Championship invitational event in Abu Dhabi later on Friday.
Abu Dhabi: Rafael Nadal got his season underway with a 6-4,6-4 loss to fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the semi-finals of the Mudabala World Tennis Championship exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi. It was the world number ones first match since losing in straight sets to Novak Djokovic in the final of the World Tour Finals in London on November 11.
Playing ahead of the official ATP season-opener in nearby Doha next week,Ferrer looked the sharper from the start,breaking in the ninth game to take the first set. It was more of the same in the second set as Nadal struggled to find his range.
In the second semi-final world number two Djokovic defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 7-6 (7/5),6-3 under the watchful eyes of new coach Boris Becker. PTI