Comment: This was Andy Murray’s night and those on Centre Court shed a tear of joy with him
How did he do that? From the moment he gestured to his box that his long-standing groin injury was troubling him once again, it seems as if Andy Murray’s improbable hopes of continuing his Wimbledon story was doomed to failure.
He may have been a set and 3-1 up against qualifier Oscar Otte at the point when it appeared injury was threatening to get the better of him, but it quickly seemed as if the game was up for the two-time Wimbledon champion.
The second set quickly drifted from his grasp and when the third also slipped away, the crowd in attendance on the Centre Court that has witnessed so many of his greatest moments feared they were witnessing the beginning of the end of Britain’s greatest sportsman of all time.
His mind may be telling him there are moments of glory left in his career and his spirit seems impossible to break, but the body that has been letting him down for the last four years and more finally appeared ready to deliver a fatal blow.
When the match was suspended due to bad light and the roof was closed to ensure a conclusion could take place in front of the same fans who started watching this compelling match, Murray’s race appeared to be run.
All that appeared to be left was for world No 151 Otte to apply the finishing touches to Murray’s 2021 Wimbledon campaign and possibly convince him to call time his career once and for all, after four years of never ending attempts to clamber back to the top.
Then, majestically, Murray roared once again.
Coming out after the break revived and rejuvenated, Murray had clearly had treatment on the groin problem that was giving him so much discomfort and suddenly he was transformed with the help of Centre Court choir.
We have all missed the presence of spectators at sporting events over the last year and sitting inside Centre Court to witness this remarkable Murray win reminded us how important they can be.
Cheering every Murray winner, gasping at every Otte miss, this was a Davis Cup atmosphere under the Centre Court roof, with the feeling that this may be one of the last times a Wimbledon crowd would live through a night of Murray drama like this adding to the raw emotion.
This quickly became the Andy Murray testimonial match, with Otte unfortunate to be cast as the bad guy in a script no one present wanted to see end in anything other than a victory for the local hero.
The ending was so fitting, so Murray.
The backhand lob he used to win the Davis Cup for Great Britain in 2015 beat Otte at the net and so the celebrations began.
It just had to be…
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) June 30, 2021
“What an atmosphere,” said Murray. “I needed everyone’s help tonight and they did a great job.
“I hit some great shots at the end to win it, but it was a tough match.
“I played the right way the last couple of sets and hopefully I can come out on Friday and if we have another atmosphere like this, hopefully I can perform well again.”
Murray won’t win Wimbledon this year, he may never win a match again given the condition of his body, but this is why he fought so hard to come back from an injury few have attempted to conquered before.
This was Murray’s night and those of us here to witness it shed a tear of joy with him.
Follow Kevin Palmer on Twitter @RealKevinPalmer
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