Building the stamina to consistently survive the rigours of playing five-set matches will top Andy Murray’s agenda as the former US Open champion, who has undergone two hip surgeries, plots the revival of his career.
Playing his first Grand Slam singles match since the 2019 Australian Open, Murray produced an astonishing fightback from two sets down to defeat Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka in four hours and 39 minutes in his opening round.
But that match seemed to take a toll on the 33-year-old as he bowed out against Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets on Thursday.
“The more tournaments that you play, the more matches that you play, you build up that sort of robustness in your body which right now I don’t really have,” Murray, who won his first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows in 2012, told reporters.
“So that’s something that I’ll need to build up over the next few months and hopefully beginning of next year if I can stay healthy, I will be better able to back up difficult physical efforts.”
The Scot arrived for the US Open tuneup at the Western and Southern Open having not played a professional match since the Davis Cup Finals in November.
Murray picked up back-to-back wins over Frances Tiafoe and world number seven Alexander Zverev but his level dropped against Milos Raonic in the round of 16 loss.
“I felt like I played some good stuff at times, but it was quite up and down. I would like to play consistently better tennis,” he said.
“If you aren’t playing at a high level consistently, then you will play longer matches because you’re having dips.
With recent injury struggles, Murray accepted it would be “extremely difficult” to add to his three Grand Slam titles.
“It was hard enough when I had two normal hips. So it will be difficult, but I’ll keep trying, like, why not? Why shouldn’t I try my hardest to do that?” he said.
“And if I don’t, that’s all right. But I might as well shoot for the stars.”
The 20-year-old Auger-Aliassime, seeded 15th, has had problems with his serve and unforced errors in the past but produced a near-perfect performance in his debut appearance on the centre court, which had its roof closed due to rain.
He did not face a single breakpoint on his serve, hit 24 aces and an incredible 52 winners: "It's an amazing feeling. I wish the fans were here but, it's funny, life is funny because I came here in 2011, I got tickets for a match and I watched Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez playing third round here. So it's crazy that nine years later I'm here playing him and getting a win."