French Open 2017: Rafael Nadal cruises into quarter-finals at Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal

French Open
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 28 May- 11 June
Coverage: Listen to live radio commentary and follow text coverage of selected matches on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and online.

Rafael Nadal continued his superb form with a dominant 6-1 6-2 6-2 win over Roberto Bautista Agut to move easily into the French Open quarter-finals.

The Spaniard, 31, is looking to become the first man to win 10 titles at a single Grand Slam event.

His victory was not quite as simple as Friday’s incredible 6-0 6-1 6-0 defeat of Nikoloz Basilashvili but fourth seed Nadal has not dropped a set yet.

He will now face either Milos Raonic or Pablo Carreno Busta in the last eight.

Margaret Court is the only player to have won 10 or more titles at one Grand Slam event, winning the Australian Open on 11 occasions between 1960 and 1973.

Nine-time winner Nadal now has a 76-2 win-loss record at Roland Garros with his only defeats coming against Robin Soderling in the fourth round in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in the 2015 quarter-finals.

It is the 11th time he has reached the quarter-finals at the French Open – a record shared with Roger Federer.

World number two Djokovic could match that record when he faces Albert Ramos-Vinolas later on Sunday. Djokovic and Nadal are seeded to meet in the semi-finals.

Japan’s eighth seed Kei Nishikori survived a scare to beat unseeded South Korean Hyeon Chung in five sets.

Nishikori, 27, needed almost four hours to win 7-5 6-4 6-7 (4-7) 0-6 6-4 in a third-round match finished on Sunday after the previous day’s rain delay.

“I think the rain helped me a lot, because I was really down in the fourth set and mentally I wasn’t ready,” said Nishikori, whose only Grand Slam final appearance came when he lost at the 2014 US Open.

“I knew I had to change something to beat him, so I think I made some adjustments to make it a little better than yesterday.”

Kei Nishikori

Big-serving American John Isner, seeded 21, was knocked out in his third-round match by Karen Khachanov of Russia, who won 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-3).

The 21-year-old will now face British world number one Andy Murray in the fourth round on Monday.

French 15th seed Gael Monfils reached the fourth round for a seventh time when compatriot Richard Gasquet withdrew from their rain-delayed match with a thigh injury.

Monfils, 30, won 7-6 (7-5) 5-7 4-3 to set up a last-16 meeting with third seed Stan Wawrinka.

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(Video Interview) Jay Litherland Trusting His Training Heading Into This Summer

Jay Litherland won the men’s 400 IM at the 2017 Arena Pro Swim Series Santa Clara by nearly four seconds. The 2016 Rio Olympian stopped the clock in 4:13.79, fast enough for 12th in the world this year. Twenty minutes later, he narrowly won the 200 free in 1:49.28.

Litherland reveals that he doesn’t like to think too much before his races and talks about racing the 400 IM with his brothers in the same heat. He also discusses the 200 free as a focus event and how he has learned to trust the process.

Watch more video interviews from Santa Clara here.

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(Video Interview) Stanford’s Katie Drabot, Allie Szekely and Ally Howe

Stanford’s Katie Drabot won the women’s 400 free at the 2017 Arena Pro Swim Series Santa Clara in 4:08.07, a lifetime best by three seconds, while teammate Allie Szekely won the 400 IM, and Ally Howe swam in the final of the 200 back. Hear from all three below.

Drabot told Swimming World how she uses her disappointing NCAA meet as motivation and describes the training atmosphere at Stanford. She discusses what she does to take pressure of herself and how she uses her goals to keep herself motivated.

Szekely described what led to her breakout performance in the 400 IM, which was a best time by five seconds, and why she is feeling so confident entering the summer. Howe discussed her work to improve in long course when she cannot take such great advantage of her excellent underwater dolphin kicks.

Watch more video interviews from Santa Clara here.

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Goalies Rule! Princeton’s Johnson, USC’s Baron Win Cutino Awards

The Olympic Club, San Francisco. Photo Courtesy: Gary Crook

BY Michael Randazzo, Swimming World Contributor

In a nod to the necessity of the netminder, Princeton’s Ashleigh Johnson and USC’s McQuin Baron were recipients of the 2017 Peter J. Cutino Award Saturday night at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. Named for the deceased University of California Berkeley and The Olympic Club coach considered by many to be the greatest in U.S. water polo history, the Cutino Award is given annually to the top male and female collegiate water polo players in America.

johnson-cutino 2017

Ashleigh Johnson. Photo Courtesy: Gary Crook

Johnson, who backstopped the U.S Women’s Senior National Team to gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, was perhaps a surprise winner over finalists Maggie Steffens of Stanford and Rachel Fattal of UCLA. A two-time finalist for the Sullivan Award, given annually to the top amateur athlete in America, as well as the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Swimming World Female Water Polo Player of the year, Johnson is the first player from the East to ever win a Cutino.

Even though Johnson’s team did not qualify for the 2017 NCAA Women’s Water Polo Tournament,  the Miami, FL native clearly deserved recognition as the country’s top player. During her senior season at Princeton, Johnson posted a 22-4 record, 300 saves and a .693 save percentage, leading the Tigers with 54 steals while adding 16 assists and four goals. She finished her career as Princeton’s all-time leader in saves (1,362) while recording 100 career victories as a member of the most successful class in program history.

Steffens—an Olympic gold medalist and women’s water polo MVP at the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Games—led Stanford to the NCAA title game all four of her years as a Cardinal and was a likely choice as the country’s best female polo player. A four-time Cutino Award finalist, last month Steffens, from Danville, CA, scored the game-winning goal in the 2017 NCAA Championship with nine seconds remaining, giving Stanford it’s third NCAA championship in four years.

baron-cutino-2017

McQuin Baron. Photo Courtesy: Gary Crook

Baron, a junior at USC, is also a noteworthy international performer, having seen significant playing time for the U.S Men’s Senior National Team at Rio. A standout performer at USC the past three seasons, Baron beat out teammate Blake Edwards, 2016 Cutino winner Garrett Danner of UCLA and Ryder Roberts, also of UCLA.

The 2016 National Player of the Year, with 247 saves last season—sixth most in a single season by a Trojan—Baron moved into second place all-time at USC in career saves with 812, 38 behind by two-time Olympian and 2011 Cutino Award winner Joel Dennerley. USC’s backbone on defense, Baron led the Trojans to a 24-2 record and the 2016 NCAA Men’s Tournament Final. The  North Tustin, CA native turned away 19 Golden Bear shots as USC lost 11-8 in overtime to the University of California Berkeley.

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Thomas De Gendt takes solo win on Critérium du Dauphiné stage one

The Belgian also took the overall race lead and the KOM jersey on the first stage of the WorldTour race

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) rode to victory on the opening stage of the 2017 Critérium du Dauphiné, taking the overall race lead with it as he rode celebrating into the finish in Saint Etienne.

>>> Seven things to look out for at the Critérium du Dauphiné 2017

The Belgian had been part of a seven-man breakaway, but dropped the last of his rivals, Axel Domont (Ag2r) towards the top of the final climb on a hilly opening day of the Dauphiné.

De Gendt had around 1-40 on the main peloton behind as he crested the last of eight classified ascents, and had already put 20 seconds into Domont after he increased the pace.

He was then able to push on down the descent, and rolled into Saint Etienne safe in the knowledge that he’d secured his first win of the season.

Behind, the key GC favourites, including Chris Froome (Team Sky), Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) and Richie Porte (BMC), were able to finish safely together.

How it happened

Axel Domont (Ag2r), Silvio Herklotz (Bora-Hansgrohe), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Antonio Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Romain Sicard (Direct Energie), Ruben Fernandez (Movistar) and Angel Madrazo (Delko) made up the day’s key breakaway and were allowed away early on and established a maximum gap of over six minutes.

Things rolled on calmly throughout the stage in drizzly, overcast weather, with the race coming to life on the 15km finishing circuits that included three ascents of a third category climb.

That circuit immediately put the sprinters into trouble, with likes of Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Arnaud Démare (FDJ) all struggling to hold on.

The signs looked good for the breakaway with with two laps to go on the finishing circuit, when they had a gap of 3-40, it began to look like they could hold on.

Dimension Data had done most of the chasing with little help, but Orica-Scott began to realise late-on that a stage win was slipping away and began to work hard to try and bring it all back together.

Up front, Domont and De Gendt went clear from their companions with 23km to go on the penultimate ascent of the climb, and it quickly became clear the former breakaway riders behind had nothing left to close them down.

Domont and De Gendt had 2-30 on the peloton on final lap, but were rapidly losing time by the kilometre.

When De Gendt dropped Domont with just over 1km to go on the climb and held a significant gap over the top, it was clear that it was set to be Lotto-Soudal’s day with no way for the peloton to come back.

Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), Pierre LaTour (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) were able to get away from the bunch on the final climb, taking two seconds on the riders behind but still finishing 57 seconds behind winner De Gendt.

Stage two will see the riders take on a more conventional sprint stage, with a 171km route from Saint Chamond to Arlanc.

Results

Critérium du Dauphiné 2017, stage one: Saint Etienne – Saint Etienne (170km)

1 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal, in 4-17-04
2 Axel Domont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, at 44s
3 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Team UAE Emirates, at 57s
4 Pierre Roger Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
5 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
6 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, at 59s
7 Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis
8 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar Team
9 Ben Swift (GBr) Team UAE Emirates
10 Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Astana Pro Team


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Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz Move Past Infamous Olympic Incident

Photos Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By David Rieder.

Last summer, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz each achieved their ultimate dream. By finishing third and fifth, respectively, in the men’s 200 free final at Olympic Trials, they two booked their spots in Rio on the 800 free relay. Although neither was selected for the finals quartet, they each received a gold medal for their efforts on the prelims relay.

But when they returned home to the United States one week later, their names were known across the country for reasons that had nothing to do with their actual performances in the pool.

Conger and Bentz were present for the infamous gas station incident in Rio that took place hours after the Olympic swimming competition ended in Rio. Days later, while much of the country was excoriating Ryan Lochte for lying about the incident and then quickly leaving the country, Conger and Bentz were pulled off a U.S.-bound airplane to be questioned by Brazilian authorities.

In the end, USA Swimming handed Conger, Bentz and Jimmy Feigen four-month suspensions. The penalty was much less stiff than Lochte’s 10-month ban but still put a black mark on an amazing accomplishment—winning an Olympic gold medal.

But neither Conger nor Bentz actually missed any competition time. By the time the sanctions were announced in early September, both were back at their respective colleges and back in training.

The University of Texas fully supported Conger through the whole situation, and the University of Georgia backed Bentz, so both could compete as they normally would in NCAA competitions that were not USA Swimming-sanctioned affairs.

gunnar-bentz-

Gunnar Bentz — Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

For Bentz, putting the situation behind him meant getting his life back to normal—and getting back to swimming. From the pool, Bentz figured, he wouldn’t have to listen to any more chatter about the incident, and through training, he could prove himself all over again.

“If you just keep your head to it and keep training as hard as you can,” Bentz said. “I think just keep your head down. We’re staring at a black line for hours every day. Just keep staring at that black line.”

Meanwhile, Conger realized that if he wanted to move forward in his career, he had to forget about what had happened in Rio. Sure, there were lessons to be learned from the incident, but dwelling on it could only cause more damage.

“If you dwell on a really big international thing like that, it’s going to affect you for a really long time, and I didn’t want it to affect me,” Conger said. “I want to keep going best times. I want to be a leader on Worlds teams and qualify for many events. If I were to take that and kind of dwell on it, it would affect my performance and affect me mentally. I didn’t want to have that happen.”

Conger came off the Olympic year strongly motivated and not just because of what happened outside of the pool in Rio. Even after winning an Olympic gold medal, the highest award in the sport, he finished the year profoundly dissatisfied with his efforts in the pool. He had just missed earning a spot on the 800 free relay in finals, but it was his times in his best events at Olympic Trials that troubled him the most.

24 hours after making the Olympic team in the 200 free, he had finished third in the 200 fly in a time almost two seconds off his lifetime best. He finished the meet with a fourth-place finish in the 100 fly.

“I was pretty bothered by that,” Conger said. “I wanted to try to make a statement, have the best swim I could have at NCAAs in the 100 and 200 (fly), kind of ride off that momentum and make sure I was in a good place for this year.”

That he did, concluding his NCAA career with a stunning performance in the 200-yard fly, touching in 1:47.35 for the fastest time in history by more than a half-second.

Jack-Conger-

Jack Conger — Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Bentz, meanwhile,put together an excellent NCAAs of his own, recording all lifetime bests in finishing fourth in both the 200 and 400 IM and then third in the 200 fly.

This summer, Bentz just hopes to find a way onto his World Championships team. He knows his best chance at qualifying will again come as part of the 800 free relay—which Bentz finds somewhat ironic, considering he arrived at Georgia three years earlier as a breaststroke and IM specialist.

“I came to Georgia, started doing fly pretty well, and then free started to come along, too,” he said. “I think it just shows we have an incredible coach (Jack Bauerle) and a great staff and training group. We all develop in different ways. Sometimes your body changes, and you can get better in different stuff.”

At the ongoing Arena Pro Swim Series meet in Santa Clara, Calif., Conger has already put together a strong effort in the 100 fly, a 52.24 that ranks No. 2 among Americans this year, while Bentz has so far topped out with a fourth-place finish in the 200 free, where he finished in 1:49.54. But Bentz knows he tends to thrive when taper comes around, so he’s not concerned three weeks out from the U.S. World Championship Trials.

“I love shaving, and I love tapering. It seems to click every time. Keep my mind on Indy, and I think it will be pretty good,” Bentz said. “It takes a little bit of rest for me to get going.”

So as with all the country’s other elite swimmers, Bentz and Conger are all-in for Indianapolis and the World Championship Trials scheduled for June 27-July 1. Both more experienced than they were one year ago, they have good reasons to like their own chances of qualifying for another top-level international team.

The gas station incident? All but forgotten.

Watch video interviews with Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz from the Arena Pro Swim Series meet in Santa Clara:

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(Video Interview) Elizabeth Beisel Focusing On Being Happy

After taking some time away from the pool, Elizabeth Beisel finished second in the women’s 400 IM at the 2017 Arena Pro Swim Series Santa Clara. She stopped the clock in 4:40.00, less than one second behind winner Madisyn Cox. 

Beisel discussed her life away from the pool for eight months after Rio, citing her travels abroad. She also talks about her identity beyond the swimming bubble and revealed that her main goal after swimming is to be happy.

Watch more video interviews from Santa Clara here.

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Sunday trading: Great discounts on smart trainers, Mavic wheels, jerseys and much more

Revamp your wardrobe and give your bike some love with some of these wicked deals from the likes of Wiggle, Chain Reaction Cycles, Evans Cycles and many more

Hello June, where did you come from? We’re well and truly getting into Summer now, so we’ve brought you some banging deals on the best summer kit, whether that’s lightweight wheels or summer jerseys.

We’ve also thrown a turbo trainer in… but that’s because it’s really cool!

Wallets at the ready, go!

Tacx Neo Drive smart trainer £1199 £964

Read more: Tacx Neo smart trainer review

The Tacx Neo Drive smart trainer is probably the ultimate in new age smart training. It’s direct drive, so there are no internal transmissions, meaning it’s both smoother and loads quieter than your average trainer.

It’s capable of simulating slopes, can pair via bluetooth and ANT+ and of course is compatible with Swift.

Buy now: Tacx Neo Drive smart trainer at Chain Reaction Cycles for £964

Mavic Ksyrium Pro Exalith Haute Route wheelset 2017 £975 £729

The Mavic Ksyrium Pros are perfect upgrade wheels, especially now that we’re coming into the warmer summer months.

They have a focus on the hills but their lightweight benefits will be felt throughout a ride.

Buy now: Mavic Ksyrium Pro Exalith Haute Route at Chain Reaction Cycles for £729

Giro Saga women’s MIPs helmet £74.99 £44.99

The Saga takes all the best features of the Synthe helmet and packs them into a cheaper package. You’ve got the exceptional Roc-Loc 5 retentions system, MIPs protection and plenty of vents to keep you cool.

Buy now: Giro Saga women’s MIPS helmet at Evans Cycles for £44.99

Morvelo Chasseur De Cols 16 nth series jersey £90 £49

Buy now: Morvelo Chasseur De Cols 16 Nth Series at Wiggle for £49

This cool looking jersey from Morvelo is inspired by the king of the mountains look and will definitely bring some bling to your weekend rides. It’s not just good looking, either, and there are plenty of techy features included that’ll make this jersey a joy to ride with.

More big deals:

High 5 exclusive bundle – £59.52 – £29.50

Airwave road tube pack of 12 – £19.99£12.50

Look keo grip cleats – £20.99 – £10.99

3T Tornova Team Carbon handlebar – £269.99 £161.99

BMC Team Machine ALR01 105 2016 – £1,249£949

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 without brakes – £1,620£899

Continental Grand Prix folding tyre – £34.95£18.98

Campagnolo Comp One OT 11spd Chainset – £339 –£125

Mavic Cosmic Pro carbon wheelset – £875£787.50

Campagnolo Bora One 50 clincher wheelset – £1719 – £1349.99

Castelli Imprevisto Nano water-repellant jersey – £80£55.99

Giro women’s rain jacket – £169.99£48.49

Endura women’s Roubaix jacket – £54.99£32.99

Specialized SL Expert bib-short – £99.99£79.99

Louis Garneau knee warmers – £19.99£11.99

That’s all for this week folks, check back next week for more mega deals!


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Stevenson flattens Fonfara en route to second round TKO win

04/06/2017 07:45

WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis “Superman” Stevenson (29-1, 24 KO) stopped Andrzej Fonfara (29-5, 17 KO) in the second round of their rematch on Saturday night at the Bell Center in Montreal, which is Haiti-born Stevenson’s adopted hometown, in Canada.

In the first fight in May 2014, Stevenson dominated most of the bout, scoring two knockdowns, in the first and fifth rounds, but Fonfara showed his toughness and fought back, dropping Stevenson in the ninth round, before losing a unanimous decision.

Stevenson again started well, flooring Fonfara in the first round with a hard left hand. But this time, although Fonfara got up almost immediately, he never recovered. The Pole took more punishment until the bell rang to end the round.

It was the same in the second as Stevenson unleased more unanswered blows and Fonfara’s trainer Virgil Hunter stepped up onto the ring apron and signalled referee Michael Griffin to stop the fight at 0:28 of the round.

“I was focused on the fight, and you saw what happened,” said Stevenson. “My hands were moving very good, and you saw what happened. Fonfara tried, but I was ready for this fight.

“I’m the greatest at 175.”

Most boxing observers rank Stevenson number three at light heavyweight behind IBF/WBA/WBO champion Andre Ward and former titleholder Sergey Kovalev, who meet on June 17. This is mainly due to Stevenson fighting lesser opposition since winning the WBC title with a first round KO over Chad Dawson in 2013.

A unification clash between Stevenson and the winner of Ward-Kovalev would decide who is the best fighter at 175 pounds.

But Stevenson’s next opponent is likely to be Eleider Alvarez (23-0, 11 KO), who maintained his number one mandatory position with a 12 round points win over former world champion Jean Pascal (31-5-1, 18 KO) on the undercard.

Alvarez clearly won most of the rounds, although one judge poorly scored the fight 114-114, it was overruled by scores of 117-111 and 116-112.

Colombia-born Alvarez, who now resides in Canada, dominated the action throughout, connecting with stiff jabs and hard right hands, rocking Pascal several times in the fight.

Haiti-born  Pascal, who also resides in Canada and became one of the country’s most popular fighters, did not throw many punches, but tried to steal rounds by showing some offence towards the end of many rounds, which may have influenced the judge who scored the bout a draw.

Alvarez should now finally be matched-up with Stevenson after taking step-aside money to allow the champion an optional defence against Fonfara.

Pascal may continue fighting but he is finished as a top-level fighter.

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Andy Murray column: Beating Del Potro, player box etiquette and life in Paris

Andy Murray

2017 French Open
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 28 May-12 June
Coverage: Live radio and text commentary of every Andy Murray match on BBC Radio, the BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app.

It was really good to work things out on court and come through against someone as good as Juan Martin del Potro, after a couple of tournaments worrying about my game and where it was at.

Sometimes it is the case when you play a top player early in a tournament that you’re a bit more focused, a bit more alert.

When you’re going through the tactics for the match it’s maybe a little bit more precise, because you’re aware that if you get it wrong, the best players will make you pay for that.

If you play a guy you don’t really know, it’s difficult to get the right gameplan, so it also helps that I know Juan Martin’s game very well.

We’ve played each other many, many times from juniors right through to the biggest matches as pros.

But he’s still one of the best players in the world, and after struggling with my game and what I was trying to do for a while, rather than actually concentrating on actually trying to beat my opponent, it was great to get things right.

Working things out tactically and making adjustments during matches gives me confidence, so that’s been a real positive for me over the last couple of matches.

‘It’s all about preparing for the next point’

Jamie Delgado and Ivan Lendl

Certain players look up to their box more than others and generally all you would like to see coming back is encouragement.

Everyone’s different in how they watch – Ivan Lendl obviously doesn’t say a lot, Jamie Delgado’s a little bit more vocal, my physical trainer Matt Little and my physio Mark Bender are probably the most vocal in the box in terms of encouragement.

But there’s nothing organised, we don’t sit down and discuss what they do or hand out different roles within the box.

I guess if they were on their phones or looking completely disinterested, or cracking up and having a laugh up there, I would probably find it a bit difficult to concentrate.

In that respect, what the people in your box do could have an impact on your concentration, but from a player’s perspective that time between points is all about preparing for the next one.

What happens during the three or four seconds after a point ends is generally your reaction to winning or losing that point.

You can be very pumped – “great, I’ve won the point” or “damn, I’ve lost the point and just got broken, I’m really upset”.

But you then have another 15 to 20 seconds to either calm yourself down and think about the next one, or spend that time thinking about what just happened – “why did I just get broken serving for the set?”

I don’t feel against Del Potro that was the case at all, and I also feel for large parts of the previous match against Martin Klizan that was a real positive for me as well.

‘I can get back quickly to see the family’

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Last year was the first time at the French Open that we stayed in a house near to the courts, and we’re doing the same again this time.

It’s very relaxed, we can eat at home and watch TV, spend family time together.

We’ve been following all the political debates from home as well the football, like the Europa League and Champions League finals – does that count as watching French TV?

It’s very different in New York, for example, because we stay in the city and it’s really busy.

You’d sign up for 40 minutes getting to the courts, so there’s quite a lot of time spent going to and from the tennis, which makes the days feel a bit longer.

Here, we’re five minutes away and it’s great. I can arrive a bit later and get back quickly to see the family.

It’s not quite Wimbledon, when I get to stay in my own bed every night, but it feels a little bit more like normal home life than the other Slams.

Hopefully I can extend my stay a little longer, I’m not ready to go home quite yet.

Andy Murray was talking to BBC Sport’s Piers Newbery

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