ROTTERDAM (AFP) – Andy Murray steps straight back into the fray just over a week since his Australian Open final loss, playing as top seed at the Rotterdam ATP event from Monday.
The Scot leads three other top 10 rivals into the indoor event, with Canadian Milos Raonic seeded second, holder Tomas Berdych at third and 2014 Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka taking fourth.
Despite his Melbourne disappointment at losing 12 of the last 13 games in the final against Novak Djokovic, Murray is ready to strive for more success after returning to the fourth ranking position.
“It’s pleasing to be back playing close to my best. I still feel like I can make improvements in my game. I think I can get a few percent better over the next couple of months,” said the 27-year-old who lost a 2014 Rotterdam quarter-final to Marin Cilic.
Murray won the Dutch title in 2009 and returned in 2011 with a first-round loss to Marcos Baghdatis.
Murray begins play at the Ahoy Stadium against a qualifier and then plays the winner from Canadian Vasek Pospisil and German Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Second seed Raonic, a quarter-finalist in Australia against Djokovic, will be making his Rotterdam debut, starting in the first round with another qualifier.
Berdych, the 2014 champion, faces a challenge in dangerous Pole Jerzy Janowicz, who will try to better a quarter-final a year ago when he lost to the Czech.
Wawrinka, 29, is back for the first time in a decade. In his last appearance in 2005, he was beaten in the second round by compatriot Roger Federer.
Wawrinka opens in the first round against Dutch wild card Jesse Hut Galung, ranked 250th.
Fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov was beaten by Murray in the Melbourne fourth round and begins his week against a qualifier.
Number six seed Ernests Gulbis faces Austrian Dominic Thiem, who is looking for his first win of the season.