By Scoop Malinowski | Tuesday, November 8, 2016
“I like watching Nadal. He’s really exciting," said Andy Murray.
Photo credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty
Andy Murray has been a candid, intelligent and intriguing interview subject since his debut on the ATP Tour.
I did this Biofile interview with newly-crowned world No. 1 Murray 11 years ago in his 2005 US Open main-draw debut.
It was a year after Murray won the 2004 US Open junior championship and weeks after he beat Alejandro Falla to win the Binghampton Challenger in upstate New York.
Watch: Murray Wins Paris Masters With 19th Consecutive Victory
At the time of this interview, Murray was ranked No. 122 in the world and had just beaten 39th-ranked Andrei Pavel, 6-3, 3-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the US Open first round to earn his first career Flushing Meadows main-draw victory. The then 18-year-old Scot fell to Frenchman Arnaud Clement in the US Open second round, 2-6, 6-7, 6-2, 7-6, 0-6.
Murray, who climbed 449 ranking spots that 2005 season to a year-end ranking of No. 65, was relaxed throughout the interview in which he discussed his favorite athlete, favorite sport and the tennis player he most enjoyed watching: Rafael Nadal. The pair would become good friends and occasional practice partners.
Seven years after this interview, Murray defeated five Top 31-ranked players in succession—Feliciano Lopez, Milos Raonic, Marin Cilic, Tomas Berdych and Novak Djokovic in a five-set final—to capture the 2012 US Open.
Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 175 pounds.
Born: May 15, 1987 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Childhood Tennis Heroes: “My favorite player was Agassi. When I started playing when I was about seven, eight I watched him. I also liked John McEnroe. I didn’t really get to see him play live but I watched videos of his matches and really liked him. And now favorite player is probably… I really like Nadal now. And all of the young guys, Gasquet as well.”
Hobbies/Interests: “I like go-karting. Boxing is my favorite sport outside of tennis. And I like listening to my iPod.”
Favorite Movies: “Wedding Crashers – I watched that twice. It just came out (summer 2005) and I thought it was absolutely hilarious. The Girl Next Door.”
Musical Tastes: “I like rap and R&B. Rap my favorite singer is Eminem and Jay-Z and R&B I like Usher.”
Early Tennis Memory: “I think one thing I’ve always had since I was very young is I was always very competitive in everything that I did. I’ve got a brother (Jamie) that is a year older than me who played tennis as well. So that is probably a reason why I started playing and where I am today. Because he was always a bit older, a bit stronger, a bit better than me. I always had to push myself to do better.”
Favorite Meal: “Caesar salad and steak and chips.”
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Chocolate.”
Pre-Match Feeling: “It kinda changes. Sometimes, depending on how I’m feeling, I like to listen to my iPod before to get myself pumped up. And now that I’m starting to play a few more bigger matches and not getting as nervous as I used to be I’m a little bit more relaxed. I just try to get myself concentrated on my match and not think about anything else.”
First Car: “Don’t have a car. I can’t drive yet. You have to be 18 to drive in Britain and I turned 18 in May. And since then I’ve just been traveling so.”
First Job: “Tennis player.”
Greatest Sports Moment: “Either winning the Davis Cup doubles match – my first Davis Cup match against Israel against a team of top ten Ehrlich and Ram. Or playing against Nalbandian on center court at Wimbledon.”
Most Painful Moment: “When I twisted my ankle against Thomas Johansson when I was 5-4 and 30-love up in the third set. Because if I’d won that I would have played against Tim Henman and that’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. Somebody that I look up to for so long, like ten years. So it would have been great to do.”
Funny Tennis Memory: “Not really during matches. The funniest thing is when the line judges get hit. Because they do make some mistakes and you do get annoyed [smiles]. So it’s pretty good when they get hit with the serves [smiles].”
Embarrassing Tennis Memory: “Probably when I got defaulted at a junior tournament in Scotland. I threw my racquet and it hit the court supervisor.”
Closest Tennis Friends: “I always deal with the juniors. I get on well with – Monfils. I don’t know so many guys of the top 100 yet. Monfils. I know Gasquet a little bit. And also Tim (Henman) and Greg (Rusedski) – they’ve always been very nice and very supportive. And I’d probably say Tim and Greg out of everyone I like the best.”
Funniest Players: “Tim’s actually got a very good sense of humor. But I don’t think it really comes across that well in the press. But when you spend time with him at a Davis Cup, he’s very competitive as well. We play each other at backgammon a lot, unfortunately I don’t beat him yet. But he’s pretty good fun.”
Favorite Players To Watch: “I like watching Nadal. He’s really exciting. It’s great to see someone so young with so much energy on the court. And also (Guillermo) Coria as well. I think he’s a little bit different from how everyone else plays – he’s small, not physically that big. And a lot of people think the game’s all about power now. But I think he shows that you can still be small and be a good player.”
Favorite Athletes To Watch: “Roy Jones Jr. I love watching him until… he’s getting a bit old now. He’s fighting against Antonio Tarver soon. So hopefully he’ll be back at his best because when he is he’s unbelievable. Apart from him, there’s a couple of British boxers – Ricky ‘The Hitman’ Hatton – I like him as well. And Muhammad Ali, for me, is probably the greatest sportsman ever. (Anyone in track and field?) No, not really. (Soccer?) Ronaldino is my favorite footballer. I’ve lived in Barcelona the last three years so I’ve gone to watch a lot of matches. Unbelievable. He’s so skillful.”
People Qualities Most Admired: “I like to see a good sense of humor. And people who show respect to others. I don’t particularly like it when, for example, if you practice with someone or you meet somebody before, then the next time you see them, they don’t really say anything to you. I don’t really like that. I like people who are funny and not so in your face.”
A long-time journalist and nationally-ranked USTA player, author Scoop Malinowski interviewed dozens of John McEnroe's former rivals and friends for his fifth booth, Facing McEnroe. To order Facing McEnroe, which retails for $9.99 or for more information on the book, please visit this Facing McEnroe link.