The exhibition Battle of the Brits was something of a hit and giggle for Andy Murray during the summer tennis virus shutdown – but the Scot is all business now after earning a weekend victory in real-life conditions.
The former No. 1 and three-time Grand Slam champion advanced to the second round of the Cincinnati Masters 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-1 over Frances Tiafoe and confirmed that from now on it’s all business.
“I don’t know about the other players, but for me it’s different,” he said in New York at the quarantined, no-fan event being played in isolation at the venue for the upcoming US Open.
“Everything is very different than it would be going into an exhibition event, if you like.”
He added: “I’m not knocking those (exhibition) events, because I enjoyed playing them and they were good for preparation.
“But these (ATP tournaments) are some of the biggest events that we play on the Tour against the best players in the world.
“They go on your record, they add to my motivation and my concentration, preparation.”
The 33-year-old emerged with a mixed impression of his game, which he will need to lift while maintaining fitness after two hip surgeries in as many seasons.
“My concentration is significantly better at a tournament like this; there were more nerves because there is just more meaning to it, really.”
Murray rated his latest performance: “My tennis could have been better. I thought I could have, but I guess that will come the more matches I play.
“I always need to see how I recover from a match like this. Although I felt good during the match, things can sometimes stiffen up and hurt a bit afterward.
“I’m happy with how I did today. I would have liked to have played a bit better, but physically I was good. That is the most important thing for me, because that hasn’t been the case for the last ten months.”