Andy Murray has made a U-turn and announced he will play clay-court events next month to get ready for Wimbledon. The former world No 1 had previously decided to skip the entire clay-court season and go straight to grass-court events before his home Grand Slam starts on June 27.
But after reuniting with former coach Ivan Lendl – and spending the last month training together in Florida – the Scot has now accepted a wildcard to play the Madrid Masters starting on May 1. He could then seek more competitive action in Rome before returning to the UK for the grass-court season.
Murray, who turns 35 next month, has been practising on clay in the USA and is pleased with his progress. But the world No 83 currently has no plans to play the French Open – and could enter a Challenger event in Surbiton during the second week of Roland Garros before playing the Weissenhof 250 event on grass in Stuttgart from June 6.
Murray has failed to register back-to-back wins since reaching the final in Sydney at the start of January. He announced he would reunite with Lendl, with whom he won his three Grand Slam titles and reached world No 1, in March after his disappointing second-round defeat to world No 120 Taro Daniel at the Australian Open.
Lendl, now 62, was in Miami to see Murray lose in the second round to world No 2 Daniil Medvedev on March 26 – his last match. The influence of the eight-time Grand Slam winner has now been shown by the decision to get competitive matches on clay.
The two are working together for a third time in a short-term deal to last the summer. But speaking after watching Murray play in Miami, Lendl insisted the Scot could return to compete for the top titles with a metal hip.
“You are asking this with a straight face after what Rafa [Nadal] has done in Australia,” the Czech-born American said. “All these guys have incredible determination. They are just like bulldogs and they want to do things because they haven’t been done before.
“If they set their mind to it then they can achieve amazing things. Rafa said he wasn’t even sure he’s going to be able to play again, then he goes and wins the Australian Open so yes, these guys can do it. I would say grass is probably Andy’s best surface. A lot of the players, it’s their worst surface. That would obviously increase his chances.”