In his career, Andy Murray has fought fiercely on the court.
Consider his epic five-hour campaign against Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina at the 2016 Davis Cup semifinal or the 2012 Wimbledon final in which he overpowered Novak Djokovic to raise the winner’s trophy in one of the longest finals in sports history.
But for the past few years, Andy Murray’s most brutal and persistent opponent has been pain.
At a highly emotional press conference this past January, he sent shockwaves through the tennis world when he announced he would retire by Wimbledon 2019 owing to the hip injury that had been dogging him since June 2016.
Thankfully for him—and for us—he was able to rehab and resume training following surgery and compete at a high enough level to initiate his comeback in doubles and even claim the Queen’s Club title with Feliciano Lopez of Spain.
On Sunday, when a journalist asked him whether he had used his time off to do some soul-searching, Murray paused before responding.
“I don’t know if there’s necessarily something I learned about myself, but if I get back to playing top-level singles, that would be one of the hardest things I’ve had to do,” he confessed. “These last couple of years have been really, really difficult and there have been times during that period where I wanted to stop. People around me kind of kept me going but, ultimately, you’re the one that has to want to go through all the training and the rehab. It’s tough and I feel like if I get through it, I would’ve persevered and just continued to try and never give up and that’s something that I feel like I’ve done that on the match court a lot through most of my career. I’ve always fought very well but this has been a different kind of fight and I’ve had to do that away from the court. I guess for the most part of my career I’ve been pretty fortunate. I’ve had pretty good upbringing. This is the first time I’ve really had to fight for tennis in a way to get myself back on the court and compete again so maybe that’s something that I’ve learned.”
The time off also helped him realize that he would be just as happy without tennis: “I always thought that tennis was the most important thing for me because it’s been a huge part of my life since I was really young, but, recently, once I got rid of the pain in my hip and I wasn’t actually playing tennis, I wasn’t competing, I wasn’t hitting tennis balls, I was loving it. So, I’m not worried about if I have to stop playing in three months’ time or a year’s time. I know that I’m going to be happy and have a good life—something I was worried about 18 months ago or so.”
In an interview last week, Andy Murray revealed that, in a perfect world, he would return to singles in Cincinnati, a week after Rogers Cup. But on Sunday, he set the record straight.
“I’m not in a rush to play. Practice has been going pretty well, with my team we’ve come up with a strategy to try and progress at a good pace, not rushing but also not going so slow that it could be frustrating,” he said. “I’m getting competitive matches with the doubles and practising with top players, so I can really see where my game is at.”
Still, the Grand Slam champion made it clear he doesn’t want to rush things: “When I feel ready, I’ll go for it. And this week I wasn’t quite ready yet. I chatted with my team because they’ve seen me in practice and even if they told me I’m looking quite good, I’m like ‘No’. But it’s all good because I don’t need to play right now. It’d be nice, but I don’t need to. I feel good and things are going well.”