Hard winter ahead for Andy Murray after seven-year low

Andy Murray conceded his humiliating exit from the ATP Tour Finals was a suitably downbeat way to end one of the most difficult years of his career.

Hard winter ahead for Andy Murray after seven-year low

London: Andy Murray conceded his humiliating exit from the ATP Tour Finals was a suitably downbeat way to end one of the most difficult years of his career.

Murray`s hopes of salvaging a frustrating campaign by winning the prestigious season-ending event for the first time were shattered as Roger Federer thrashed the Scot 6-0, 6-1 to hand him the joint worst defeat of his career.

The 27-year-old`s second defeat from his three group matches was more than enough to condemn him to a premature exit from London`s O2 Arena and bring the curtain down on an 11-month tale of woe.

Only once before, against Novak Djokovic in Miami in 2007, had Murray taken such a beating, and on that occasion he had the excuse of being less than 100 percent fit.

To his credit, Murray refused to play the blame game after being blown away in 56 minutes by Federer.

"It`s very disappointing. I would have hoped to have done a lot better but when he`s extremely loose like he was tonight he was able to try some shots he might not in other situations. Everything he tried came off. He has the ability to do that," Murray said.

"After tonight it`s quite clear I`m quite a long way from that level. I won`t be able to tell you if it`s affected my confidence until I start the new year. But it`s not a nice way to finish the year.

"I know I`m going to have to put a lot of work on the tennis court, a lot of work on my game, if I want to start the season with an opportunity to win in Australia."
An emotional season had clearly taken its toll on Murray.

He had battled a longer than expected recovery from last year`s back surgery, suffered a surprise split with coach Ivan Lendl, then controversially hired former women`s number one Amelie Mauresmo, lost his Wimbledon title in tame fashion and briefly fell out of the top 10 for the first time in six years.

Even after winning three low-key tournaments in the last six weeks in a successful bid to qualify for the Tour Finals, he still finished the year without a win against Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

He knows that record will have to improve dramatically if 2015 is to be more fulfilling.

"The first three or four months were hard. Going through surgery isn`t easy. Maybe I didn`t appreciate that so much at the time. I found it quite frustrating at the beginning of the year," Murray said.

"Obviously in the middle of that period I switched coaches and stopped working with Ivan. It was a difficult time.

"Then after that I had a couple of tough losses at the French Open and Wimbledon when I didn`t play well. Tonight is another example of that.

"Mixed in with those matches was some good tennis. The last six weeks were good but yeah it`s been a hard year."

The pain of being embarrassed by Federer on home ground will linger throughout the off-season and Murray, who failed to reach a Grand Slam final this year, made it clear he is determined to use that angst to fuel his bid to return to peak form.

"I`m not going to try and forget about it. When I think about what happened I`ll try and use it positively, as motivation for the off-season, to make some changes to things," he said.

"I would normally take a break now but I also need time to work on things. I`ll try to get back on the practice court sooner than I would have done.

"A lot can change in tennis in a matter of weeks and months.

"I`m not happy to finish the year with that result but over five sets I tend to play better tennis and I hope come Australia I`m a much better player."

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