After the agony of Andy Murray’s announcement that he was to retire from tennis in January, the last couple of months must have felt like a dream for the Scot. Doubles success at Queen’s with Feliciano Lopez in June was followed by an encouraging Wimbledon mixed doubles campaign in partnership with Serena Williams, a match made in heaven for all tennis fans.
The most heart-warming aspect about Murray’s return has been simply seeing him enjoying tennis again, smiling on court, playing with freedom, loosed from the shackles his recurring hip injury had caused him over the past few years. His surgery, which was seen as the likely nail in his career’s coffin, has ultimately birthed a pain-free Murray, able to perform a U-turn on his retirement and delight the British tennis crowds with his presence at Queen’s and Wimbledon.
But Murray’s ambitions go beyond mere doubles appearances. The Scot has said that he wants to return to the men’s singles game at some point in the near future. For those who will seek to bet on US Open 2019 on Betfair, it is unlikely that Murray will be available as a long shot. It seems as though the next Grand Slam on the calendar will come too soon, as Murray seeks to ease himself back into the tumult that is singles tennis.
Indeed, many will question if a return to the singles game is a wise move for the recovering Murray. At a time when Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer show no signs of slowing down, it will be intriguing to see if Murray could return to the same level as those three greats of the game.
That will undoubtedly be his goal. A player as motivated and determined as Murray would never seek or settle for mediocrity. While his doubles appearances have represented something of a jolly, if Murray is to return to singles competitions, he will be returning to win more trophies, to add to his haul of three Grand Slam titles.
But is such an achievement possible for Murray at this stage of his career, given his injury woes? The standard of the men’s game has never been higher, both physically and technically. For a player who prides himself on his ability to compete at the highest level, if Murray cannot scale those heights once again, he may feel his legacy tainted in the end if he cannot maintain the standards of longevity set by those three greats.
A feeling of pressure to compete is the last thing Murray needs, to place undue exertion on his body and mind after such a rollercoaster few years. One thing the US Open will offer Murray is the chance to assess how he compares to the cream of the current crop. The Scot is no fool, he will recognize that to get back to the level he was at prior to his injury problems will take a great deal of time and effort.
The question is whether or not Murray has anything left to prove. Three Grand Slam titles in an era where Federer, Djokovic and Nadal have been at the height of their powers is no mean feat. Truthfully, those three at their best outstrip Murray at his best, and so the Scot’s staying power with the standard bearers of modern tennis is to be admired and celebrated.
But then, tennis is a sport that rewards courage and ambition, along with the hard work and dedication such ambition demands. There have been few players as motivated and determined as Murray in the history of men’s tennis. It would be no surprise if we see Murray walking out for another Grand Slam final somewhere down the line. While his return to the game has been all smiles and good feeling so far, the determination found within the tennis’ great achievers does not die easily.
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