June 24, 2020
Andy Murray to reach the final stages of Wimbledon 2021?
The crazy thing is, we can’t rule it out any more.
No one has been able to say anything like that for a while. And we know how outrageous it might sound.
After all, it was Kyle Edmund who beat Murray 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-5), 10-5 in the Battle of the Brits – not the other way round.
But given what Andy has been through, he was simply incredible.
Winner Edmund admitted: ‘He showed very good anticipation, uses different speeds and he has found some sharpness after his operation.’
That was an understatement. At times we saw jaw-dropping tennis from a man who has barely played since last autumn.
Murray has won Wimbledon twice. He’s still a long way from winning a third. These are early days in his comeback.
And a surprisingly good performance in an absolute thriller against Edmund isn’t everything.
Yet it’s hard not to feel euphoric.
This was a wonderful night for British tennis. And Murray’s progress is almost frightening.
You also have to remember that some of his big-time rivals for the Wimbledon crown have had their own problems of late.
So why on earth shouldn’t we start to dream again?
Imagine Murray going deep into the second week at Wimbledon 2021! Why not?
The point is, we haven’t seen anything in the last 48 hours to rule it out. And that in itself is just so exciting.
Of course, a couple of impressive matches don’t tell us everything.
We’ll know more when he plays the likes of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal.
Or if Murray reaches the second week of the upcoming US Open.
But Andy’s still got the game to do serious damage. His metal hip appears have given that glorious game back to him.
The sky’s the limit if his body holds up.
To lose in straight sets to Edmund and show distinct signs of athletic improvement would have been promising enough.
But we were treated to so much more than that. And the entire nation can rejoice.
Here is one of our very favourite sportsmen – back doing what he does best.
Here is a man who can go into Wimbledon 2021 believing he has a chance to win it if this breathtaking comeback continues apace.
We might have reasonably expected a winning shot here or there on Wednesday night, more glimmers of hope for the future.
Instead we got the real deal. Stunning and startling, as Murray rolled back the years.
It was beautiful to watch. As we moved towards the business end of the first set, Andy’s expression said everything.
Murray was loving every moment.
His movement was better than the previous day. He was hitting cleaner. Taking more shots inside the baseline. Showing more aggression.
The anticipation was extraordinary. The serves and returns were still superb.
Defence solid. Aggression more obvious. Truly, the great Brit is back.
And remember, this was a high-quality opponent. Edmund is top-twenty material at his best.
He has reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open. The Yorskhireman has huge power in that booming forehand.
But Murray knows when to turn on the style.
And the key moment in the first-set breaker came when he unleashed a fizzing return down the line. Edmund had no adequate answer.
Suddenly the Scot with only three competitive matches under his belt since October was looking like he had never been away.
Just to be able to say that is quite astounding.
Murray romped away with the tie-break 7-2. It wasn’t even close. He looked mentally strong in the second set too.
Even when Edmund broke to go 4-2 ahead, Murray broke straight back.
He was 4-4 and 0-30 ahead on Edmund’s serve. Two points from serving for the match.
A break and a hold would have finished it. But it wasn’t to be.
Andy squealed in frustration as his strokeplay deserted him for once and the opportunity passed him by.
He had break point at 5-5. Again Edmund dug deep to avert the danger.
And so they faced a second breaker. Murray started with the shot of the match. A phenomenal backhand pass down the line under immense pressure.
Then the net was unkind at key moments and his opponent raised his intensity. Edmund and his Yorkshire grit edged it 7-5.
The decider would be a super-breaker. Could Murray raise his game once more after such a gruelling match?
He didn’t have much left in the tank. Perhaps that was to be expected.
Instead the last moments of magic came from Edmund and the Englishman thoroughly deserved his 10-5 win in the decider.
But Andy Murray can be so proud of his glittering contribution.