Andy Murray and the never-ending retirement narrative – The Last Crusade: Take 25

Tim Ellis
Andy Murray
Andy Murray

Picked up one of those free papers the other day, lying around as they do ever so forlornly when eyes are pinned to phones. Given that lives are a little empty as we mourn the passing of Wimbledon for another year, loud breaking news comes screaming out of the traps to catch the eye even in old-fashioned print form. It’s clickbait in tabloid form.

“Andy Murray reveals his tennis career is coming to an end” went the big bold and rather misleading topline. Now, journalists do not write the headlines so there’s no blame attached there, but there has to be an edge to everything, eh? When you research what the Scot has consistently been saying for several weeks and months, the story is not as riveting.

After being beaten at Wimbledon by the delightfully reverential John Isner, the 35-year-old admitted: “[if] physically I feel good, then we’ll try to keep playing. But it’s extremely difficult with the problems I’ve had with my body in the last few years to make long-term predictions about how I’m going to be even in a few weeks’ time, never mind in a year’s time.”

The forensic analysis of that comment – with a little bit of paraphrasing – reads: “As long my body holds up, I want to play as long as I can.” In a recent podcast with the Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster, the three-time major champion revealed that he wanted to keep going as long as he enjoyed it. That’s sound too.

Even after losing to Alexander Bublik in the quarter-finals at the Hall of Fame Tournament at Rhode Island, Muzza was consistent: “[I want] to continue to improve. If I keep seeing progress I’ll continue to keep playing.”

Earlier in the week, Andy was daft enough to use different words after beating Sam Querrey: “You never know how close you are to the end but I’m aware I’m getting towards the end of my career,” he said after the match. Ohhhh, Andy. You can’t say “end”. No. That’s big bad breaking news with bells on. It doesn’t matter what the nuances are. You said “end”. Twice. They will be getting the dramatic farewell out at Melbourne 2019 again for a second showing soon.

Andy Murray declares he will keep playing as long as he sees progress

For the record, the Glaswegian is adamant that he never said he was going to pack it in three years ago Down Under. It’s just that ever since that premature syrup-laden video of goodwill from his peers, retirement has been looming after every stiff walk back to the locker room.

Murray won’t let media outlets run down the clock for him. There has been a real belief in his new-found form, coupled with a pending frustration about his breaking body.

It must be harder than ever to walk away when in the last few months, the double Olympic gold medallist has been a set away from beating Matteo Berrettini in the Stuttgart final and has downed Dennis Shapovalov, his SW19 conqueror in 2021, in Miami. There are too many signs to keep going even though the struggles bring an extra burden to carry with age and rust.

When he walked on court against Bublik, he looked stiffer than Tiger Woods on the practice ground at St Andrews. Getting to the business end of these tournaments is a ferocious achievement when family life must be flashing before his eyes as a more permanent long-term aim

The schedule now is to try and break into the top 32 and get a seeding for New York as he blitzes the North American hard court season at the Atlanta Open, the Citi Open in Washington DC, the National Bank Open in Montreal and the Western & Southern in Cincinnati. That other great metal hip survivor Bob Bryan said: “No one wants it more than Andy.” Hold off the never-ending “ending” for now. Murray is ready for the grind.