Tennis: Lionel Messi inspires Sir Andy Murray to put on show at Battle of the Brits

Sir Andy Murray is determined Schroders Battle of the Brits – Scotland v England in Aberdeen will be a tennis spectacular – and he’s taking inspiration from Argentinian football maestro Lionel Messi.

Three-time grand slam winner Murray, 35, arrived in the Granite City on Tuesday, ahead of the pre-Christmas court showdown between Scotland and England’s best men’s players at P&J Live on Wednesday and Thursday.

Although he is arguably Scotland’s greatest-ever athlete and an icon in his own right, Murray still finds himself inspired by other figures from the sporting world – and was in awe of seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi’s fantastic two-goal showing to lead Argentina to the World Cup, via a dramatic penalty shoot-out, in Qatar on Sunday.

The 2013 and 2016 Wimbledon men’s singles champion revealed the achievements of other veteran performers like Messi act as “motivation” to him, saying: “He’s amazing, what he’s done for so many years, and I was really happy for him that he was able to finally win the World Cup.

Argentina captain Lionel Messi being lifted in the air by his team after they won the World Cup in Qatar. Image: PA

“He was seen as ‘not having done it international level’, which was strange considering, I mean, they won the Copa America not long ago and have been in multiple finals and stuff.

“The age that he’s at as well, you know, he’s 35 – I think he was born the same year as me.

“Seeing any athletes, you know, in their mid to late 30s going out there and competing and performing doing what they love is brilliant.

“I’ve had the opportunity to witness that a bit in tennis as well recently, whether that’s Serena (Williams) or (Roger) Federer and (Rafael) Nadal and these guys that are doing it in our own sport.

“I find that it gives me motivation to keep going and keep trying to go out there and perform as best I can.”

Scotland ‘want to win’ in front of P&J Live crowd

Sir Andy comes to Aberdeen for Battle of the Brits soon after a three-week off-season camp in Florida.

The event will be the first time he and his brother – tournament director and multiple doubles grand slam winner Jamie – have played in the Granite City since starring in the Aberdeen Cup at the old AECC in 2005 and 2006.

The Scotland v England clash comes days before 2012 and 2016 Olympic champion Sir Andy, who also won the US Open in 2012, heads to Australia to start the new year at the Adelaide Open.

Last season he broke into the world top-50 for the first time since the injury problems which culminated in his 2019 hip resurfacing surgery, while he also beat a top-10 player, world no.5 Stefanos Tsitsipas, on the way to the final of the Stuttgart Open in June before the latter part of his season was hampered by a persistent cramping problem.

Battle of the Brits – Scotland v England may be an exhibition tournament, but with Great Britain’s best men’s players divided down Scotland and England lines, Dunblane native Sir Andy, who is playing in all three of the sessions across Wednesday and Thursday, is determined to rack up wins.

He said: “All of the players that are here are very competitive. You got myself, Jamie, (England’s) Neal (Skupski) and Joe (Salisbury) have all been number one in the world.

Andy Murray in action at Wimbledon in the summer. Image: PA

“It’s a little bit like – not exactly the same – but like with the Laver Cup, it was an event that when I first saw it, it was seen as being an exhibition, but when you get there and you’re playing in front of a big crowd and you’re surrounded by you know, the people that you’re surrounded by, you want to win and your competitive instincts come out and all of the players will be giving their best to win the matches.

“We want to put on a show for the people who are coming as well.

“I think we’ll see some really good high level tennis over the next few days.”

Rare visit to Aberdeen for Murrays

The Battle of the Brits teams: (LR) Jack Draper, Paul Jubb, Joe Salisbury, Neal Skupski and Dan Evans of England, then Aidan McHugh, Jonny O’Mara, Jamie Murray and Andy Murray of Scotland.
Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Sir Andy added: “That’s also one of the reasons for having the event here in the north of Scotland is that the last time I played here was the Aberdeen Cup thing in 2006.

“All of the times we’ve played (in the UK) have been in like Glasgow or in England.

“It’s giving people the opportunity, who wouldn’t normally have the chance to watch top level tennis.”

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[Tennis: Lionel Messi inspires Sir Andy Murray to put on show at Battle of the Brits]

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