MONTREAL (AFP) – Andy Murray admits that try as he might, he cannot keep the excitement and anticipation of his upcoming US Open title defence out of his mind at the Montreal Masters.
The second-seeded Scot said on Sunday that the anticipation of returning to Flushing Meadows is exciting.
"I want to try and do well here, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking of the Open," he said in the run-up to the Canadian event, his first time on a hardcourt since March and his first opportunity to play since winning Wimbledon a month ago.
"Over the past few years I've not been good at staying focused (on the tournament at hand)," he said. "I've always looked ahead to the Slams and not played my best at the Masters. I've been inconsistent in the build-up to the majors."
Murray, seeded second behind Wimbledon finalist Novak Djokovic, will have to keep his wits about him as he starts in Montreal in the second round after the bye handed to the leading eight seeds.
The world number two Scot starts against either Bulgarian talent Grigor Dimitrov or Spaniard Marcel Granollers, winner of the Kitzbuehel clay title.
Murray owns a pair of Canadian titles, claiming the event in 2009 and 2010 before Djokovic swept the next two.
The 26-year-old Scot admitted that he is not expecting great things in his opening match.
"When you've not played for a few weeks you always get a bit nervous before the first match. I feel good about the last couple of months, but I'm still not expecting to go out there and play great tennis.
"I'll have to try and find a way to go through the first one. It will be a very difficult match. I'll have to be patient with myself and not expect too much. I'll have to fight for every point.
"If I can do that I'll give myself a chance at winning, but it won't be an easy start for me."
With the tournament missing two-time champion Roger Federer due to a back injury, Murray and top seed Djokovic would be expected to fight for the title, along with fourth seed Rafael Nadal who will also be making his summer hardcourt start after a Wimbledon first-round defeat in June,
Djokovic, ever the showman, entertained a crowd who had filled centre court to watch a practice session. When showers forced partner Nicolas Almagro off court, Djokovic gamely borrowed an umbrella from a courtside fan and proceeded to carefully dance through a few shots with a sparring partner.
The Serb then corralled a young fan onto court as the weather cleared a bit for a few minutes of "hitting". He posed for a photograph with the youngster and finally got on with training as the court dried out.
Djokovic's opening opponent will be determined on Monday when Australian Bernard Tomic and Germany's Florian Mayer meet in the first round.