Murray: Don't let the sun go down on me

THE sun is beckoning for Andy Murray but first he has to face the heat in London.

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More than 17,000 spectators will cram into the O2 Arena in south London to watch tonight's shootout between the 25-year-old Scot and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

The world No.3 is battling to qualify for the knockout stages of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals and keep his hopes alive of challenging for the £1.5million prize.

Murray is desperate to postpone his first real holiday for two years and continue to battle in London.

The Dunblane player will give it his all against the world No.7 but he could be forgiven if his thoughts strayed to the holiday he will share with his long-time partner Kim Sears.

The break in the sun will come before Murray plays the pain game for his three-week training regime in Miami.

"I haven't taken a holiday the last few years because I've also gone straight from Miami over to Australia," said Murray.

"This year I wanted to spend a bit of time at home before I went away for two-and-a-half months or whatever it is. This year we go on holiday then I spend a few days at home and this time I'll be home over Christmas for the first time in a few years."

Murray is looking forward to his first holiday "in about two years".

He travels the world all year but said: "We don't see too many of the cities when we're there because obviously when we are travelling, it isn't a holiday.

"And because the season's long, it is nice when we do get some time off to just be at home. But I'm looking forward to being away this year."

Murray would not reveal the precise destination, but said he was happy to lie on a beach "for a couple of days".

But he added that he would still do some training because "your body, when you do just lie around and stuff, it stiffens up then when you do start practising, it takes time to get back into it and your body hurts quite a lot as well when you take a week off doing absolutely nothing."

The training camp in Miami will be brutal but Leon Smith, head of player development at the Lawn Tennis Association, believes it should be the template for other British players to follow.

Smith, the lad from Clarkston on the south side of Glasgow who has risen to become a leading force in British tennis, said Jamie Baker, the Scottish Davis Cup player, and Ollie Golding, the rising English star, both travel to Murray's camp in Miami.

They may be in for a shock at the intensity of the training. "Andy gets up at 6am and runs miles and miles on South Beach until he throws up at the end. He's doing bikram yoga, he's doing weights, he's playing three hours a day," said Smith.

But first Murray must play Tsonga, and Smith believes the US Open winner has a great chance of qualifying for the knockout stages.

"He has maintained his level throughout the year in what is a demanding schedule beyond all belief," said Smith, pointing out that Murray's roll of honour also included an Olympic gold.

The Scot has beaten the Frenchman five times in a row and Smith said Murray was "very, very good" at "tactically exploiting" a player.

He said: "He has obviously worked out a couple of areas in Tsonga where he has the tools to exploit.

"It is a good match-up for Andy. Tsonga has a great serve, but Andy is a great returner, so he negates that. Once they get into the points situation, Andy is very, very good at exploiting those areas that Jo could be weak in."

The temperature is rising here at the O2 Arena, but Murray is determined to take more of that heat before heading off to the beach for a well-earned rest.

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