Andy Murray’s return to action on a dank, chilly Thursday evening at Queen’s Club gave us few clues about what lies ahead, but the joy on the face of the three-time Grand Slam champion as he won his first match back on the ATP Tour was a delight to behold.
Murray would never have imaged a tight win in a men’s doubles match on a court he has ruled as a singles champion on five separate occasions would mean so much, yet this was not an ordinary tennis match for the Scot.
Alongside his temporary partner Feliciano Lopez, this was Murray back on a stage he appeared to have departed amid the tears and trauma of what he admitted was likely to have been his final match as a professional at the Australian Open in January.
Yet Murray has been rebuilt since that seemingly desperate day in his career, with his refurbished hip seemingly in fine working order as he produced flashes of brilliance in a match that ended with him flashing his remodelled shiny white teeth to an excited audience.
“It was brilliant. I enjoyed it a lot,” declared Murray. “I was a little bit slow at the beginning but got better as the match went on.
“I’m very fortunate to be back playing tennis again. I love playing on this court, it’s a brilliant place to play tennis.
“I felt quite relaxed in the build-up today but I started to feel a bit nervous walking to the court. You want the nerves and the butterflies in the stomach and I had that today.”
What a moment – On a scale of 1⃣ to #Murray how much did you love that? 😍😍
— LTA (@the_LTA) June 20, 2019
Murray had every right to smile after working so hard to reach this point, yet time will tell whether this was the beginning of something new or the final chorus of his glorious symphony.
Cynics will say that Murray is merely mounting this comeback in a bid to satisfy sponsors old and new, with a recently signed clothing contract with Castore and a new partnership with American Express announced this week amid expectation that he may yet have an extended playing career ahead of him.
An attempt to return to singles action later this year is inevitable and yet Murray openly admits he doesn’t know whether his shattered body will stand up to the rigours of long five-set matches of the ilk he would face should he be tempted to play at the US Open in August.
💪 We think Andy may have enjoyed this one just a little bit…
— LTA (@the_LTA) June 20, 2019
Given all he has put his body through over the course of his career and amid this latest comeback attempt, a winning return to the singles court still seems like a long shot for a 32-year-old who may only have had a couple of years left in the game without the physical problems that have afflicted him.
His fans should get excited by his eagerness to return to the top of the sport he clearly loves, but it is his sponsors who will be revelling in this unexpected comeback from a player who is now more popular with the British public than at any point in his career.
Those looking on at Queen’s Club clearly appreciated the effort and desire of a champion who has more than enough money and accomplishments in his life to retire with his legend intact and at least his admirers can look forward to a few more chapters in the Andy Murray story before we know for sure whether this comeback is for real.
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