It’s anything but the perfect ending for Andy Murray
Words by Charles Odugbesan
“If this was my last match, it was an amazing way to end.” Potentially heart-wrenching final words of British Tennis ace Andy Murray following his first round defeat at the Australian Open. The 31 year old from Glasgow, coming into the first Grand Slam of 2019, had strongly hinted that his days on the court may be numbered after unsuccessfully shaking off a hip injury which has been an ongoing issue for almost 2 years.
In any other generation of Tennis, Andy Murray would be a true phenomenon of the sport. But alas, a large part of his career was spent in the shadow of three of the greatest champions in its history. Murray will not be considered as majestic as Federer, as intimidating as Nadal or as metronomic as Djokovic when the umpire calls “Game, set and match” for the final time. But at their very best, can those three men be considered human? Their longevity and unfathomable success, as a collective, has always given us cause to deem them “out of this world”. So in that case, Andy Murray is the greatest HUMAN tennis player of the modern day. Being the best of the rest however, removes no shine from an otherwise wonderful career. For 10 years dating back to his first Grand Slam Final in the 2008 US Open, he has been the only constant and consistent threat to the dominance of The Big Three. And as aforementioned, he even managed to rise briefly to the summit of the game, ending 2016 as World Number 1. By then l, and we, were forced to declare a Big Four!
Tennis is one of the most mentally and physically demanding sports out there. And typically, yet sadly, Murray seems to be losing the war of attrition as the miles take a toll on his body. Murray ended 2016 as both Wimbledon Champion and World Number 1 but midway through the 2017 campaign, he would succumb to a hip injury at the French Open that looks to have forced him into an early retirement. His hip is now at the stage where he will need surgery (for a second time) just to ensure a better quality of life – more playing time at this point seems out of the question. Murray did stress that he would want it to end at Wimbledon. But after watching him crash out at the first round in Australia, one wonders what more the 31 year old can offer at this point.
Of all the achievements that Andy Murray can be most proud of, none will top the success and the status that he has brought back to British Tennis. Individually, Murray’s triumph at Flushing Meadows (2012) saw him become the first Men’s player to win a Grand Slam since Fred Perry in 1936. That same year he took the Gold Medal at the London Olympics beating Federer in the final. In 2013, after 77 years of waiting, the British public finally saw a homegrown player recapture the holy grail; a Wimbledon title. Murray stood in Djokovic’s way proceeding to rewrite history in claiming the first of his two SW19 crowns. In addition, he captained the British Team to Davis Cup success in 2015, again the first since 1936. No doubt Murray’s contribution to the game will inspire the new generation of young Brits to achieve as the likes of Kyle Edmund, Cameron Norrie and James Ward now look to fly the flag.
Whilst the circumstances and the result were not ideal, Murray’s thrilling fight back against Roberto Bautista Agut typifies every quality that he will be remembered for when he is gone: the man is gritty, dogged and wears his heart on his sleeve. Murray was often criticised and divided opinions amongst fans of the sport as he became famous for his mid game antics and outbursts. But in that regard he was unapologetic. His fiery demeanour simply conveyed his heart and determination; traits in which all who watched him compete, fans or not, could never call into question.