Former World No. 1 Andy Murray is prioritising short-term progress over long-term aspirations as he returns to the court at the Western & Southern Open this week following a recent injury setback.

The Brit is a two-time champion in Cincinnati, capturing the title in 2008 and 2011, and said in his pre-tournament press conference that his body is feeling good and he is well-prepared for the event. Murray withdrew from the singles tournament at the Tokyo Olympics due to a torn quad. However, he did reach the quarter-finals in doubles alongside countryman Joe Salisbury.

“It was hard and frustrating to have to miss the opportunity to play in another big event again,” Murray said. “It was tough because I obviously felt like I had built up some sort of momentum during Wimbledon.

“Since then I have been back and practising and building up. I arrived nice and early on the Monday and have just been preparing since.” 

It has been another challenging year for Murray, with injury issues hindering the three-time Grand Slam champion. This has led to a more short-term mentality for Murray, who makes his return to the Tour this week.

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“I try to focus on the short term, as it’s been very difficult to plan medium and longer-term targets because of various issues that I have had this year,” said Murray, who has received a wild card entry for the event. “I just need to take things very much each week at a time now and give all my energy to each match and each event that I play and see where I am at the end of the US Open.” 

The 34-year-old has only played eight matches in 2021 so far, with three of his four losses coming against players ranked World No. 12 or higher in Andrey Rublev, Matteo Berrettini and Denis Shapovalov.

“When I look at the matches that I have played on the tour this year, a few of the guys I have lost to have had top seasons, and I have just not been ready to win against them when I played against them,” Murray said. “The short-term goal is to be on the practice court with these guys as much as I can and hopefully get the chance to play matches.”

Murray, who will open his Western & Southern Open campaign against a qualifier, has fond memories returning to Cincinnati, and is looking forward to playing in front of the crowd.

“In my career I have enjoyed playing here. It’s a great event,” said Murray, who holds a 33-13 career record in Cincinnati. “I’m very thankful they gave me (a wild card), but hopefully I have done some good things for their event over the years, too.

“It’s great to have fans back in the stands. I had people watching my practice yesterday, and that was nice, and it will be nice to play in front of big crowds. I look at this week as a great opportunity for me to play on hard courts and conditions that I like against top players again.”

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