Andy Murray news: Tim Henman and Mats Wilander on what the Scot can achieve in 2022
Three years have passed since Andy Murray waved a tearful farewell to tennis on the very court that saw him roll back the years with a five-set win against Nikoloz Basilashvili on Tuesday evening at the Australian Open.
Back in 2019, Murray stood on court with his former coach Mark Petchey and reflected on a story that appeared to have run its course, with his shattered hip seemingly set to bring down the curtain on a career that has delivered so much.
Yet Murray has never known when he is beaten and he confirmed as much once again by beating No 21 seed Basilashvili 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-4 to seal his place in the second round of the first Grand Slam of 2022, moving back into the top 100 of the provisional rankings in the process.
When Murray held serve to move 5-4 ahead in the final set, a glint in his eye suggested he knew his time was coming and after two match points came and went in the next game, his winning moment duly arrived.
After all the agony of his hip surgeries, all the hours spent in the gym trying to fight back, this was the moment he had been waiting for on a court that was laced with very different emotions for him three years ago.
The tears always seem to be close to the surface for Murray in this “extra time” period of his career and this was the case once more after this win, but we should not be surprised.
Murray has been through so much to get to the point where he can perform on the game’s biggest stages once again, with former British No 1 Tim Henman telling us that Murray has already defied his doubters by getting back on court.
“Hopefully Andy can continue to build,” Henman told Tennis365 at a Eurosport event. “For the last year, he played a couple of tournaments and then has to take some time off. He wasn’t able to build momentum. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he can start to build momentum on the match court.
“If you are winning on tour, you are certainly good enough to have a run deep into a Slam, but my question mark would be at that age with a metal hip in three out of five sets for two weeks, that might be step too far.
“But what we have seen in Andy’s career is when people say he can’t do something, he likes to prove people wrong.”
Many questioned why the former world No 1 was continuing in the sport after he underwent hip surgery three years ago, but seven-times Grand Slam winner Mats Wilander suggests Murray could be a player to watch this year.
“He has come around and is doing much better now,” Wilander told Tennis365. “He took that wildcard at the French Open and didn’t really show up against Stan Wawrinka and he has proven his point after that.
“He put me on the spot when I said what I said about him getting a wildcard in Paris (at the 2020 French Open) and I told him, ‘no I don’t think you should get them if you are not motivated’. Now he looks fully focused again, so I have no problem about him taking wild cards now.
“He is playing good. Andy Murray is never going to be that player who will beat players off the court if they play well, but he will make them play worse and that’s the sign of a great player.
“Andy Murray has a great mind, he is motivated and for me, it is all physical. His game style may be slightly old-fashioned, but the brain is not, he is a problem solver.
“He can get to quarter-finals at Grand Slams, for sure, if he is healthy,” added Wilander. “I’m pulling for Andy. It is great to see someone who plays tennis matches with the inside of his brain still winning tennis matches among the big hitters.
“He is one of the smartest players on tour. You make a lot of decisions with your heart when you are a player like Andy Murray. You have to die to win and then you make good decisions.
“It will be tough for him to get his ranking back up into the top ten, but he can certainly have good runs at big events and players know they are in for a real battle when they step on court with Andy Murray.”
Japan’s Taro Daniel lies in wait for Murray in round two of the Australian Open and if his body recovers from the brutal battle against Basilashvili, he will be the favourite to win that encounter and make it through to the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time since 2017.
As he had proved time and time and time again, Andy Murray doesn’t know when he is beaten.
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