Andy Murray is bracing himself for the “weird” experience of playing at the US Open without any fans.
The first grand slam since the coronavirus pandemic struck gets under way in New York on Monday and is being played behind closed doors.
Murray, playing his first major since January 2019, takes on Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka on Arthur Ashe on Tuesday.
I think mentally it’s going to be difficult for the players
It is a court where some of his best moments have occurred, memorably winning the 2012 title, and the Scot is preparing himself for it to be very different.
“I think mentally it’s going to be difficult for the players,” he said of playing behind closed doors. “It is difficult, but the level of tennis is what’s important.
“If you can sort of block all of the weirdness of playing without a crowd, like, on big stadiums and stuff. I actually felt OK doing that last week. It didn’t feel too bad in the matches.
“It will be tricky. I play my first match on Arthur Ashe. I played some of the best atmospheres that I’ve ever played in tennis on that court.
“To go out there on such a huge stadium and have literally no one in the stands is going to be weird. I know that’s going to be the case, so at least I can prepare for it mentally.
“It’s different, but I’m just looking forward to getting to compete in a slam again.”
Murray has not played a best-of-five-sets singles match since having a metal plate inserted into his hip in January 2019, but he is backing his body to be able to come through it.
“The day off (in between matches) helps for sure,” he said. “Last week was tough, the day after the match with (Alexander) Zverev, but it was also the first match I had played, matches I had played, in 10 months.
“So playing two two-and-a-half-hour matches in the heat of the day was difficult. But my body will learn fast.
“It has been playing tennis matches its whole life. I think it will adjust to what it is required to do. It might just take a bit of time because it has not done it for a while.”