Andy Murray was fated for a painful, bitter end. Hereabouts how he pulled off a miraculous comeback
It comes two years after he played what he feared would be his final match as a professional in Melbourne.
Andy Murray suffering from chronic hip pain lost in five sets to Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round of the 2019 event.
A film paying tribute to his career was shown on the big screen in the Melbourne Arena after the match.
In his first press conference at Melbourne Park ahead of the 2019 Australian Open, Murray barely managed one answer before breaking into tears.
“Not great”, he said, before leaving the room.
Meanwhile, he returned to an almost-funereal media room, Murray opened up on his extreme injury difficulties in an incredible display of raw emotion.
He said: “(I’ve) been struggling for a long time, I’ve been in a lot of pain for probably about 20 months … I can’t even put my shoes or socks on without any pain.
“The pain is too much really and I don’t want to continue playing that way.”
Then came the almost-announcement.
“I said to my team, look I think I can get through this until Wimbledon. That’s where I’d like to stop playing, but I’m also not certain I’m able to do that … I think there is a chance the Australian Open is my last tournament,” he said.
Ere Murray had even finished speaking, there was a huge outpouring of support from the tennis world. If it was to be his last tournament, he would go out a hugely popular figure – not just for his tireless efforts on the court, but for the way he handled himself off it.
“We welcome Andy back to Melbourne with open arms,” tournament director Craig Tiley said. “His retirement was an emotional moment and seeing him come back, having undergone major surgery and built himself back up to get on to the tour again, will be a highlight of AO 2021.”
At 122 in the world, Murray is ranked just too low to gain direct entry into the tournament, which is due to begin on 8 February after a delay because of coronavirus.
The 33-year-old Scot has also accepted a wildcard to compete at the ATP event in Delray Beach, Florida, in the first week of January.
Murray was able to play only seven official matches this year because of a lingering pelvic injury, and the five-month suspension of the tours.
But he looked sharp in this month’s Battle of the Brits event, as he beat both British number one Dan Evans and number three Cameron Norrie in straight sets.
Murray has said he remains positive of winning big matches if he can stay fit and healthy, and has been making the most of an extended pre-season.
“I got on this body fat percentage scale thing, and the read-out that I got from that I wasn’t happy with it,” he told reporters in November.
“I’ve worked hard to get to this point, but I can do better. I could make sure I’m eating better, I can make sure I’m stronger in the gym.
“It’s the length of time a boxer would have to train for a big fight, and you can get yourself in great shape in that time.”