August 9, 2019
Andy Murray is back – and we are not talking doubles.
Against all odds, the Scot has announced that he will play singles at Cincinnati.
Accompanied by a fist-pumping, passionate battle cry of a Murray photo, Andy said on social media: ‘That feeling when you accept a wild card to play singles in Cinci. #Let’sDoThis #HereWeGo.’
You can just feel his excitement, after so long unable to depend on himself alone on a tennis court.
Doubles is one thing. Singles is quite another. And doesn’t he know it!
It is barely an exaggeration to say that Murray feels reborn in purely sporting terms.
And that must surely mean he feels he might have a chance of making the US Open singles at Flushing Meadows too.
It is an incredible development. Seven months after it was feared we would never see the British favourite in gladiatorial action ever again.
Remember the tears in Australia? The realisation that the Aussie Open 2019 could well have been Andy’s last hurrah?
The tennis world certainly thought so – and wanted to say goodbye respectfully.
It was done in style in Melbourne. Farewell video clips from all Andy’s friends and rivals. Nice knowing you. Nice competing against you.
To be fair to Murray, he did try to point out at the time that he still harboured hopes of a comeback some day.
It was just that few believed it was possible. When your hip goes, that is usually curtains. Until now.
Most people will be amazed by the timing. Sure, Wimbledon doubles was already a pleasant surprise.
The fun he had with Serena in the mixed was something never to be forgotten.
But if we are being brutally honest, Andy was rarely the better player in his doubles excursions.
Flashes of brilliance, sure, but he looked rusty. Sometimes his movement was less than sharp.
At that point, Murray seemed to distance himself from the possibility of a US Open comeback in the singles.
It was almost as though Wimbledon had made him realise that the return to full match fitness for singles was still going to be a long road ahead, a tough one to negotiate.
Since then, however, something has changed. There have been very encouraging practice sessions with compatriots Kyke Edmund and Dan Evans, both in very decent form.
Andy, we understand, concluded that if he wasn’t embarrassing himself against the best of British, he might as well test himself against the wider world.
Why Cincinnati? Because it will help him answer hard-court questions before the next Slam.
He probably desperately wants to play singles at Flushing Meadows.
He wouldn’t want Australia to be his first Slam back. Not after the farewell fanfare of earlier this year.
He might not have a realistic chance of going truly deep at the US Open. But it would be a weight off his shoulders just to compete alone in the big time once more.
The media circus would take place this year. Leaving 2020 to be the year of truly serious Grand Slam contention.
Good luck Andy. Fantastic to have you back. Enjoy every moment. We will.