Andy Murray says he is determined to keep playing at the highest level of tennis, after losing 7-5, 6-2 to Andrey Rublev in the second round of the Rotterdam Open.
The former world number one, who is building form and fitness after another long injury lay-off, wants to avoid slipping back down to the second-tier Challenger circuit, and believes he can challenge the world’s best again - if he cuts out mistakes.
Murray was pleased with his movement in the first set, matching the fourth seeded Rublev for most of it, until he lost his serve at 5-5 - a slip-up he found hard to take.
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“I want to be playing at this level because I learn a lot from a match like tonight,” said the three-time Grand Slam champion.
“The issues and the mistakes that you make get amplified more at this level…It is getting that balance right between getting enough matches and then also playing at a level where I am able to learn and pick things up as quickly as possible.
I do feel tonight there were some good, positive signs there. Just when it mattered, I wasn’t good enough. I will need to improve.
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“I lost my serve from 30/0. I hit two double faults and a bad forehand. To me, that is just not good enough.
“When you are playing one of the best players in the world in those moments, if they come up with something great to win those points you come off [the court] and say it is understandable.
I felt in that moment at the end of the first set that I blew it a bit. I had 15/40 in the next game to break back and I think I messed up a little bit there as well.
For a player who has been at the top of the game for so long, Murray, ever a perfectionist, admits he is finding it difficult to mentally cope with mistakes that he would not usually make when on top form.
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“In the second [set], he was much better than me. No question about that”, he said.
I think at the end of the first set, I messed up - I am not used to making those errors in those moments and I am finding that quite frustrating and I am finding myself mentally looking back on those moments a little bit too much, which maybe affected me a bit in the second set.
“There were some good things in there and I am disappointed because I messed the end of the first set up. I probably should have won the first set.”
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Murray is next due to be in action at the Dubai Tennis Championships, which begin on March 14, but given he is still easing into the tour after injury he is conscious not to push his body.
"I want to play as much as I can but also bearing in mind I have to be smart with the decisions about which tournaments to play," he said.
"I'll have next week off and then hopefully be able to play in Dubai and Miami and then see from there.
"There's the option to play the full clay court swing or drop down and play Challengers to get more matches. I feel I want to be playing at this level."
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