MADRID: Defending champion Andy Murray says he won’t be living in the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro, preferring to stay at an apartment with the British tennis team.
Murray stayed in the athletes’ village in Beijing in 2008, but not in London in 2012, when he won the Olympic gold medal in the singles tournament.
“I’m not staying in the Village,” he said after a second-round victory over Radek Stepanek at the Madrid Masters on Tuesday. “I’m staying in an apartment with the rest of the team.”
He said he had fun socializing with athletes from other sports in Beijing, but in Rio this August he decided to repeat the winning formula from London.
“To be honest, when I stayed in the village in Beijing I had a great time,” said the No. 2-ranked Murray. “But my tennis was pretty bad there. I did something different obviously during London and that worked out well for me.”
Murray said he wants to be as prepared as possible to contend for another medal, and to do that he will take on the Olympics as if it was any other big tournament on tour.
“My job there is to try to prepare as best I can and win a medal for my country,” the 28-year-old British player said. “I think the best way to do that is to sort of prepare like you do for other events where you’re in your own space.”
Murray also spent some time at the athletes’ village in London even though he was not based there. He said at the time that meeting with other athletes was part of the Olympic experience.
Many other tennis players did not stay at the village in 2012 because the Olympic tournament was played at Wimbledon, distant from the other main competition venues.
Roger Federer is another top player who reportedly will skip the athletes’ village in Rio, although his staff was yet to confirm his official plans. Federer had problems at the Olympic Village in 2008 because of the constant requests from other athletes for autographs and photographs. Maria Sharapova also was constantly sought-after at the village in London.
“It’s different than what we’re used to,” Murray said. “I think that’s why the players are staying outside.”
Rafael Nadal was one off the main attractions at the Olympic Village in Beijing, when he won the singles gold medal. He has already said he wants to enjoy the same experience in Rio in a few months. The former No. 1 said that being with other athletes is one of the high points of being at the games.
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic, the bronze medalist in Beijing, said that the Olympic tournament is one of his priorities. Like Nadal, he also stayed at the athletes’ village in 2008.
A top Brazilian security official said last month that in terms of security, it would be better for all athletes to stay in the Olympic Village, which would make it easier to keep them safe. He said additional security measures might be needed to protect some of the athletes who decide to stay in other places.