CINCINNATI (AP) - Andy Murray’s gold medal is back home on a cabinet. He hasn’t even had time to pick an appropriate spot for the grandest prize of his career.
There’s a more immediate challenge: get back in form for the U.S. Open.
Murray took a few days off to let a sore left knee heal and get some needed rest for the start of the Western & Southern Open in suburban Cincinnati. The tournament opened Sunday with two matches in the men’s bracket.
Bernard Tomic of Australia beat American Ryan Harrison 6-4, 7-6 (5). James Blake overcame a sluggish start _ five unforced errors in the first two games _ and beat South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 7-5, 6-4, winning both sets on aces.
Blake came in ranked No. 106 in the world and knocked off the 32nd-ranked player, his biggest upset of the season.
“Everyone in the locker room is making fun of me for being the old guy, saying I should be in the coaching box,” the 32-year-old Blake said. “Tonight I had a little bit left.”
Murray is the defending champion in Cincinnati, but a worn-down one after the greatest moment of the Scot’s tennis career.
He barely had time to celebrate his Olympics gold medal win over Roger Federer at Wimbledon, spending the next day doing interviews and having dinner with his friends. The following morning, he was on a plane for Toronto and the Rogers Cup.
After two days of matches, he withdrew last Thursday because of the sore knee and tiredness from the hectic few days. Murray blamed the soreness on having to adjust overnight from Wimbledon’s soft grass to the hard courts.
“Going onto a new surface, that presents new challenges,” Murray said Sunday. “I felt good after winning the gold medal, but coming over to play on hard courts, your body starts to hurt a little bit, you’re sore in the joints.
“You have to work on different shots as well. So that can occupy your mind a bit. You’re not feeling great straight away. Switching surfaces is a new challenge, something that’s taken me a few days to adjust.”
Murray will be one of the top draws in a tournament missing Rafael Nadal, who dropped out because of a sore knee, and defending champion Maria Sharapova, who is recovering from a stomach virus.
He’s already had quite a summer.
Murray reached the final at Wimbledon for the first time, but lost to Federer, falling to 0-4 in Grand Slam finals. He returned to the chewed-up grass at center court a few days later, coming to terms with the disappointing loss.
“I was obviously pretty upset afterward for a couple of days after that,” Murray said. “After going back _ I don’t know if I just kind of moved on after that or what, but it seemed to help. I got on the practice court a few days afterward. Before when I lost in Slam finals, I struggled for a few weeks, sometimes a few months afterward.”