October 21, 2019
Andy Murray wasn’t supposed to be able to do this.
Not with the greatest surgeon in the world, not with the most outrageous stubborn streak.
But it has happened. Andy Murray has just won another title. Hip, hip, hooray!
‘One of the biggest wins I’ve had, after everything,’ he explained emotionally.
One of the most remarkable too. What bouncebackability!
There used to three great surfaces in tennis. Grass, clay, hardcourt.
Now there is a fourth. Metal.
Whatever they used to cover Murray’s crumbling hip, it has just become the greatest surface of all.
Andy, you are now more than a fine tennis player with an iron will. You are a medical miracle, a truly extraordinary human being.
A few facts. Title number 46 came in the shape of the European Open in Antwerp. The first since Dubai in March 2017. Murray rises from 243 to 127 in the world.
In reality, Andy is back playing top ten tennis. Watch out, big three.
Make no mistake, Wawrinka was on fire until Murray found a way to douse the flames and put on some pyrotechnics of his own.
The final score said 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. But those who watched the match knew the true depth and drama of this intriguing contest.
Stan was emphatically The Man for so long. He pinged perfect backhands as only he can.
He acknowledged the cheers of the crowd, as if he knew he was about to win. Then he pinged some forehands too.
Murray was 3-6, 1-3, 15-40 down. All but finished when he smeared another fault.
The comeback began with a kicker second serve to break Wawrinka’s rhythm. It continued when he began to attack the net with conviction.
It gathered momentum with all manner of superhuman saves, until Stan lost some of his fragile self-belief and the match was level.
Wawrinka stormed back and could have broken at the business end of the decider. Instead it was Murray whose will to win shone through.
Andy wept tears of relief. He shook his head with the shock of it all. Then he spoke.
And if you read between the lines, you could almost hear him thinking: “If I can do this now, so early, why not Wimbledon 2020? Why not?”
Murray wants more. This, he feels, is just the start of his second career.
He said: ‘The last two years for me were hard, it was difficult. Now I need to start talking about my future, and I am certainly a lot more optimistic now than I was a couple of months ago, even a few weeks ago.’
With good reason, Andy, with good reason.
Five matches in six days. Win after win. The fitness is obvious. The movement is phenomenal. The technique was always there.
A few weeks ago, Murray was halfway back to where he needs to be in order to lift that Wimbledon trophy once more.
Now he is more than three-quarters of the way there. Stunning progression.
Maybe only Tiger Woods knows what it is like to be written off as a physical wreck and then bounce back so miraculously.
Andy Murray, sports personality of the year? How about sports personality of the millennium?
Whatever next? A third child. Davis Cup in Madrid in late November. Then the Australian Open.
We are under no illusions. Grand Slam tennis is a fresh challenge. A fortnight of tough, unseeded, best-of-five action.
But Murray is now ready for that challenge. Melbourne. Paris. Then Wimbledon.
He will get even better. He is ready for that adventure.
And by the time those glorious long evenings of Wimbledon sunlight return once more, Murray will surely consider himself capable of lifting a third title on home turf.
Australia beckons first in the New Year. How delicious, the irony.
Australia, where nine months ago Murray broke down in tears in front of the world’s media and suddenly admitted his career may be over.
At WDH we had called it even before he said it. In that kind of physical state, he just had nowhere left to go.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic said goodbye to a game but broken adversary by video. Andy was reluctant to return the farewell wave.
Now we know why. And isn’t it a thrill?
The charming Wawrinka just spoke for everyone: ‘I think the tennis world, including me, was really sad in Australia after that press conference.
‘To see you back at this level, it’s amazing. We’re all really happy.
‘I’m sad I lost but I’m really happy to see you back. You’re an amazing champion and you deserve that.’
It’s as if Murray has not just borrowed but lived a famous Beatles line: ‘I don’t know why you say goodbye I say hello.’
Andy is back. Call him the Bionic Man or simply one of the most stubborn sports personalites in history. He won’t rest here.
But where can he strengthen? He can raise the level of aggression further still. He can make his serve even more of a weapon.
And you sense Murray will soon be troubling the likes of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic on the major sporting stages of the world once more.
At Wimbledon 2020 Sir Andy Murray, Miracle Man, might even prevail.
Featured Image; The Metro, Francisco Seco