Published January 17, 2013
MELBOURNE, Australia – On a hot day at the Australian Open, it was perhaps fitting for Andy Murray to be talking about short shorts.
And the weather, of course.
After soaking in an ice bath to cool down, Murray said he was thankful that his match went quickly on Thursday when temperatures reached 106 degrees — and the court felt like a sauna.
"There were very few long rallies. So it worked out well for me because it was really, really tough conditions," said Murray, who won in straight sets over Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-2, 6-2, 6-4.
Murray sat between changeovers sipping bottled water and with an "ice towel" slung over his neck — a towel packed and bound with chunks of ice.
Union Jacks and Scottish flags flew in the stands, where fans sang a song called "Andy Style" to the tune of "Gangnam Style."
After the win, a confident Murray tossed his racket to the ground and thanked fans by hurling his sweaty wristbands and a damp towel into the stands.
The 25-year-old Scot has been dubbed "A New Andy" at this year's Australian Open.
Unburdened by the pressure that followed him on previous trips to Australia, he arrives this year as the reigning major champion.
Now that he has ended the 76-year drought for British men at the majors, he doesn't have to field the same nagging questions about whether he has the talent to win a Grand Slam.
Which is why the world's No. 3-ranked player was talking about tight shirts and short shorts in his post-match news conference.
The subject of his shirt had come up in the first round when he explained he hasn't bulked up his upper body, but it may have appeared that way because he's wearing a tighter shirt this year.
Elaborating Thursday, he said the change of style was decided on by his sponsor, Adidas, but he didn't mind the snug new fit and preferred it to tops with low, baggy sleeves that can impede the elbow during swings.
"The less material there is on the shirt I think probably the better. There's less to get in the way," he said, with his typical deadpan delivery. "So long as they're tailored somewhat, I think there's no real problem."
Murray was then asked his personal view on certain men's players who seemed to be wearing shorter shorts this year in a nod to the 1970s.
"I actually wore a pair at Wimbledon," he said. "Not quite like what Ivan (Lendl) and those guys used to wear on the court. I can't see a return to them, to be honest."
Thinking about it made him smile: "Yeah, they were a bit too short. Didn't leave too much to the imagination."
Lendl, the eight-time Grand Slam champion, is Murray's coach and is the man he largely credits with his winning streak and an added aggressiveness that carried him through a breakthrough year in 2012.
On Thursday, Lendl sat in the stands watching Murray, leaning on a towel draped over the hot railing.
Since teaming up with Lendl, Murray was runner-up at Wimbledon, a gold medalist at the London 2012 Olympics and then won his first Grand Slam at the U.S. Open.
He has come tantalizingly close in Australia, where he was a finalist in 2010 and 2011 and a semifinalist in 2012.
Standing in the way of a potential second Grand Slam title for Murray is a likely semifinal against No. 2-ranked Roger Federer and No. 1 Novak Djokovic, whom he could face in the final.
Murray knows his next opponent well — qualifier Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania. The two have trained together ahead of past Australian Opens and practiced together earlier this month at the Brisbane International, where Murray defended his title just before heading to Melbourne.
The 22-year-old Berankis is playing his first Grand Slam in Melbourne and ranked 110th.
"He hits the ball pretty big from the back of the court. He plays aggressive. He's a very flat hitter of the ball," Murray said of his opponent. "It's nice to see him do well because we spend quite a bit of time practicing together."