London not a priority for Murray

Andy Murray is not prioritising the ATP World Tour Finals (AP)

Andy Murray is not prioritising the ATP World Tour Finals (AP)

First published in National Sport News © by

Andy Murray will refocus for the rest of the season after his US Open exit but insists qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals in London is not a major priority.

The Scot lost a three-and-a-half-hour battle with world number one Novak Djokovic late on Wednesday night to go out of the year's final grand slam in the quarter-finals.

It was the latest disappointment of a difficult season for Murray following back surgery almost a year ago, although there was plenty to offer encouragement that better times lie ahead.

The 27-year-old will hang on to his spot in the top 10 and, given he did not play on the ATP Tour last year after the US Open, he has the opportunity to make significant headway during the Asian swing and European indoor season.

That culminates in the World Tour Finals, being held at the O2 Arena for the sixth successive year in November.

Murray has qualified for the tournament every year since 2008 - surgery ruled him out of competing last year - but this year it is very much touch and go.

By reaching the last eight in New York, he has closed the gap on the likes of David Ferrer, Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov ahead of him, but he will drop to 10th in the standings behind Kei Nishikori with only the top eight to qualify.

There are still plenty of points to play for, in particular at the Masters events in Shanghai and Paris, but Murray will not change his schedule to chase points.

He said of qualifying for London: "It was not a massive goal of mine. It's obviously nice to qualify for it. It's a good tournament. I've played a number of years and enjoyed it.

"But I'll play the right schedule. I won't overplay just to try to qualify.

"I set my goals up to now and everything I did after Wimbledon was to prepare for the US Open. I'll take a break now for a couple of weeks and then decide what the goals are and what I want to do between now and the end of the year."

Murray was naturally extremely disappointed after losing to Djokovic but was able to see that he had made progress in New York.

Those critics who were worried that after splitting from previous coach Ivan Lendl he would revert to a more passive game would surely have been heartened to see the venom with which Murray hit his forehand.

He struck more winners than Djokovic but it was the Serbian's greater stability and physical superiority at the end that carried him over the line after four gruelling sets.

"I think I can do better," said Murray. "It was a good tournament. I played some nice tennis at times. There's definitely a few things I can do better to keep working on and improving."

The biggest disappointment for Murray was that he was not able to stay with Djokovic physically.

He prides himself on the gruelling training he does to be one of the fittest players on tour but his levels of stamina are not yet back to what they were before surgery.

The fact Murray had spent three and a half hours longer on court in reaching the last eight almost certainly played its part, and one thing he can learn from Djokovic is the economy with which the Serbian gets through the early rounds.

Murray will have another training camp with coach Amelie Mauresmo and his team in December that should mean he is in prime shape for the Australian Open in January.

The 27-year-old said: " Maybe I haven't played enough matches at that level this year. Maybe I'll gain a lot from playing a match like this.

"Because it doesn't matter how much training you do, when you get on the match court it's different. I can't practice with the best player in the world, so it's tough to practice at that intensity."

Djokovic extended his winning record over Murray to 13-8 and 4-2 in grand slams, and he revealed he goes into matches against his former junior rival feeling he has the physical edge.

The Serbian, who plays Nishikori in the last four, said: "I know that the matches are going to go the distance. We're going to have a lot of long rallies and a lot of exchanges. It's going to be physical but also mental.

"I get the feeling that if I get to stay with him and work, work and not get too loose and too frustrated with points and not allow him to get into a big lead, I feel like there is a point where I have that edge maybe physically.

"That's what I try to always focus on and it paid off."

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