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Page last updated at 06:54 GMT, Monday, 20 October 2008 07:54 UK

Henman still ahead of me - Murray

Andy Murray
Murray heads to St Petersburg next to defend his title

Andy Murray says he still has a long way to go to match the achievements of Tim Henman, despite winning his second Masters Series title on Sunday.

The 21-year-old beat Gilles Simon 6-4 7-6 (8-6) in Madrid to follow up his victory in Cincinnati in August.

Murray is the first Briton to win two Masters Series titles but insists that Henman, his predecessor as British number one, remains the benchmark.

"Tim was definitely much, much better than me," said Murray.

"Over eight or nine years he was in the top 10, always playing well in Wimbledon, making the semi-finals in all the Grand Slams (except the Australian Open).

"I've only passed the semis once, I still have a long way to achieve what he did."

Murray has had a magnificent year, rising to a current high of four in the world rankings, reaching a first Grand Slam final at the US Open, a first quarter-final at Wimbledon and taking his tally of career titles to seven.

Henman and fellow Briton Greg Rusedski, who both retired as players in 2007, also made it as high as fourth in the rankings, with Henman reaching six Grand Slam semi-finals and winning 11 career titles and Rusedski progressing to the 1997 US Open final and winning 15 titles in total.

However, Murray has already surpassed their efforts at the elite Masters Series level, with Henman and Rusedski managing a single win in Paris each.

"It's great to make a little bit of history," stated Murray. "This was huge for me.

"Although Tim and Greg have achieved a lot more than I have over a long period in tennis, I've done something that neither of them were able to do."

He has earned himself the respect of the competitors, he has worked so hard and he is reaping the rewards now

Miles Maclagan, Andy Murray's coach
Murray came in for criticism last year when he dispensed with the services of star coach Brad Gilbert and replaced him with his own team of coaches and fitness trainers.

But the Scot has been well and truly vindicated as, among the many highlights of 2008, he has enjoyed wins over Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

"In terms of my coaching set-up, the people who are travelling with me, the amount of practice and the amount I'm working in the gym - everything's much more structured now," he revealed.

"I feel much more comfortable on the court, much more relaxed, and I think that's made a huge difference to the consistency of my performance."

Murray's coach Miles Maclagan believes Murray is benefitting for the rewards of many months of hard work.

"It hasn't just been the last two-and-a-half months - since I started with him he has worked incredibly hard," the former Great Britain Davis Cup player told 5 Live.

"Seeing it from the inside it has been a slow process of building. In the clay court season he did a lot of good work and it has come to fruition now.

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"He has earned himself the respect of the competitors, he has worked so hard and he is reaping the rewards now."

When asked if Murray can go higher than four in the world, Maclagan replied: "He can go higher and he is very comfortable. That is where he sees himself and he has proved that.

"It's not just like he has just had one lucky tournament, he's been playing well for a while and had consistent wins so that's where he belongs and we are always pushing for more."

After his stunning win over Federer in the Madrid semi-final on Saturday, Murray did not have to match those heights against a clearly tired Simon.

"It's the first time I've played a huge final when I've been the favourite to win," said Murray.

"Everyone was saying he was going to be tired, he'd played a lot of long matches.

"I knew that as well and maybe pushed the ball around a little too much but just served great and that was the reason I won."

Murray heads to St Petersburg this week to defend the title he won last year, and he will face world number 53 Viktor Troicki of Serbia in his first match.

The Briton will then round off 2008 with the Paris Masters and the Masters Cup in Shanghai.


see also
Murray v Simon as it happened
19 Oct 08 |  Tennis
Madrid Masters gallery
19 Oct 08 |  Tennis
Nadal number one despite defeat
18 Oct 08 |  Tennis
Bolelli injury hands Murray win
14 Oct 08 |  Tennis


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