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Murray pained by Baltacha death

ESPN staff
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Andy Murray's frequent fist-punching moments were largely absent during his victory against Nicolas Almagro © Getty Images
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Andy Murray says tennis became less important to him this week after the death of Elena Baltacha altered his perspective.

The British No.1 dedicated Wednesday night's straight-sets victory against Nicolas Almagro at the Madrid Open to his late friend, who succumbed to liver cancer on Sunday at the age of 30, writing "Bally" on an on-court TV camera and drawing a heart sign.

The Murray family used to sit alongside Baltacha in a minibus on their way from the indoor courts at Stirling to junior tournaments in England and, while Andy produced a professional but low key performance in Spain, he admitted he had been affected by the loss.

"When you get that sort of news you realise that it [tennis] isn't everything," Murray said. "I mean, really it isn't. Last year with Ross [Hutchins, his friend who was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma 18 months ago], that was tough. Thankfully he managed to come through it, but then over the last ­couple of weeks it's been the same sort of thing.

"You realise how lucky you are and that the most important thing is your health. The more time that passes, the more people will celebrate everything that Bally did because she was a great character, a great person, and she got everything she could out of her potential.

"Everyone wants to be Wimbledon champion and No.1 in the world but not everyone can have that. The best thing you can do is achieve your potential and I believe she did that. So that's big credit to her."

Murray will join Hutchins and a number of other leading players on Sunday, June 15, to play three exhibition matches in different parts of the country, at Queen's Club, Birmingham and Eastbourne. The proceeds will be split between the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis with Murray taking small consolation from being able to act.

He said : "It's a horrible situation but the only thing we can do is try to help her family and her husband - try to raise as much money as we can for her academy because that will be her legacy.

"She wanted to help kids. As soon as she stopped playing she got straight into the academy. So hopefully that's something we can help keep going and that's what the Rally for Bally is about.

"It [Baltacha's death] is something that every single day you're going to think about right now. I had had a bit of an idea what was going on for a few weeks, so in some ways you're prepared for the worst. But it's just tough, tough for everyone. I just wanted to go out and play and win and try and enjoy it. But it's not easy."

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