By Jürgen Fritz, Thu 01 Jul 2021, Cover picture: Stan Sport Australian-Screenshot
For almost a decade he was the best player in the world after the unique big three: Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. As a Nadal fan, I was afraid of the young Scot at first, because it was clear to me very quickly that he could be very dangerous to Rafa on hard court and on grass. But then, over the years, Andy Murray became one of my favourite players. His passion for tennis, his humour and his sportsmanship are just great. Last night he enchanted us once again.
Two Olympic gold medals, a US Open and a Davis Cup title, two Wimbledon titles and finally the world No. 1
On top of that, he was born into probably the most ungrateful time ever: six years after Federer, one year after Nadal and born in the same month as Djokovic in May 1987, which of course put him right in the era of the three greatest tennis players of all time. It was to take almost ten years before he was finally able to leave the big three behind him, but then fate played the next big trick on him.
In September 2008, he was ranked No. 4 in the world for the first time. Murray won 14 C tournaments (Masters 1000), more than the great Pete Sampras, almost as many as Andre Agassi. But in the A tournaments it was usually not enough to put the big-three all away. In 2012, however, he won the Olympic gold medal in singles (B category) at the age of 25 and finally his first Grand Slam tournament at the US Open (A) in his fifth final (he had previously failed three times to Federer, once to Djokovic).
In 2013, he became the first Briton since Fred Perry in 1936 to win the Wimbledon Championships in men’s singles. The British were beside themselves with joy. They had had to wait more than three quarters of a century for this! At the end of 2015, it was Scotland’s Andy Murray who brought the Davis Cup to the island for the first time since 1936, the first time in 79 years. The British love him for it to this day.
Then in the second half of 2016, at the age of 29, he finally made it past the big three to become world No 1 for the first time. First he won his second Wimbledon title in the summer, then his second Olympic gold medal in men’s singles. This is still unique for someone to be able to defend his gold medal or to win individual gold twice at all. At the end of the year, he also won the ATP Finals (B) and was the new tennis king. But his reign lasted only a few months, barely more than half a year.
The hip, always the hip
Right at the beginning of 2017, injury problems set in and got worse as the weeks and months went by. In July, he had to stop the season early, could not play a match for a year. In January 2018, the first hip surgery followed. From summer 2018 he tried to make a comeback, but the problems did not go away. At the beginning of January 2019, he tearfully announced his retirement at a press conference by the middle of the year at the latest, after Wimbledon, because the hip pain kept coming back. The second surgery followed at the end of January 2019, when his hip was reinforced with a metal cap. It was thought that was it. But Andy Murray came back with an artificial hip joint from August 2019.
In October 2019, he even managed to win a tournament in Antwerp (E) for the first time in two and a half years, but the pain came back immediately. Again, he had to take almost a year off. He has been fighting for four years now, does not want to end his career at 34 despite all that, still believes in himself that he can win matches on good days and keep up with the best in the world. The ATP world ranking lists him only at number 118, and he will probably never reach the top ten or even the top five again. His body won’t be able to cope with that. But last night Andy provided the magic moments for which he has taken and continues to take all this on himself.
Magical moments on Wimbledon’s Centre Court
It was the last match of the day, played after dark, after the roof had been closed and the floodlights switched on. 1-2, Murray was trailing after sets in the second round (R64) of the men’s singles against the strong playing German Oscar Otte. He had won the first set very confidently 6-3, but then sets two and three both went to Otte 4-6. But Andy Murray came back again, winning the fourth set 6-4. Fifth set.
Now the decision had to be made. And now they were there, the magic moments. Murray played as if intoxicated, took the audience with him and they took him with them. What an atmosphere! How much we had missed that. Andy played great, in some moments almost like in his best days, almost like in 2012 and 2013 and 2016. He hardly made a mistake, the Scot was highly concentrated and he played really good tennis.
Andy Murray won the deciding set against a bravely fighting Oscar Otte 6-2 and thus the match 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.. Tennis can be so beautiful! The crowd went wild. Andy is back. Back in Wimbledon. He is in round three, in the last 32. He has been struggling for four years for this. It was worth it. Good to have you back, Andy!
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