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McIlroy redemption an inspiration for Murray
Andy Murray believes he can take inspiration from Rory McIlroy's redemption from stumbling talent to the undisputed king of the golfing world.
The two sportsmen have developed a friendship and spent time together in New York recently, with Murray watching McIlroy at The Barclays Championship in New Jersey this weekend as he prepared for the US Open, which begins today at Flushing Meadow.
The Barclays was the first tournament in four outings that McIlroy did not win, having secured back-to-back majors in The Open and US Open, with a maiden World Golf Championship title sandwiched in between.
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That secured him the world No.1 position, but you need only look back as far as May for people - including McIlroy himself - questioning his direction. A tendency to spoil excellent first-round performances with blow-up second rounds, plus a much-publicised split from fiancee Caroline Wozniacki, was attracting the wrong kind of attention for the Northern Irishman.
Murray has similarly been questioned about his career strategy since splitting from coach Ivan Lendl and replacing him with Amelie Mauresmo. Murray is without a tournament win since claiming the Wimbledon title last year and suffered a disappointing exit at SW19 last month when easily defeated by Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals.
"I guess obviously we are both in individual sports and there has been a lot of expectation on both of us over the last few years," Murray said of the McIlroy friendhsip. "It is nice and can be helpful to talk to other athletes in different sports. I find it interesting, and it can give you a different way of looking at things, I enjoyed spending time with him.
"We spoke about the last couple of months for him, but I didn't talk about how long it took to break through. You watch him live, but then you speak to him and can see he is a totally normal guy. He's not different to anyone else, just incredibly gifted at golf.
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"He obviously works extremely hard at it as well. You see him playing with Bubba Watson and Jimmy Walker. He is hitting the ball 30 or 40 yards farther than Jimmy Walker, who is a fantastic golfer, and that's special because you can't teach that. He's a small guy and not incredibly strong, but he has incredible technique and timing. It was great to watch."
Murray begins his US Open tournament against Robin Haase on Monday, having triumphed at Flushing Meadow two years ago to claim his first Grand Slam title. His only previous meeting with Haase at this tournament saw him have to recover from two sets down to win in five.
"Last time I played Robin here it was a tricky match," said Murray of that 2011 encounter. "It was windy that day, and very up and down. He started well.
"I think maybe I won the fourth set 6-0, and then I was a break up [in the decider] and he came back. It was a strange match. It wasn't a particularly clean tennis match, but I found a way to get through."