October 2, 2019
Andy Murray won the hard way against Cameron Norrie – but the gruelling nature of the victory will do him good.
Step by step, Murray is edging towards his goal – to be a serious contender in the singles at Wimbledon 2020.
And won’t the crowds be thrilled to see the home hero back in the hunt for a hat-trick of Wimbledon singles titles?
Of course, Andy isn’t quite there yet. But just look at his achievement in the last few days. He is getting there.
Murray has won back-to-back ATP singles matches for the first time in a year.
His magnificent win over world number 13 Matteo Berretini surprised many. Then this 7-6, 6-7, 6-1 victory over Norrie – an even tougher physical test in two hours and fifty-two minutes.
Now he is in the quarter-finals of the China Open – the first time he has gone so far in the last year too.
And yet there was a point in the match against Norrie when it looked as though he might have to throw the towel in.
A 37-shot rally left him bent double. Moments later he was broken to go 2-5 down in the second set.
Murray began to stagger and complained to his team that he was completely shattered.
You wondered for a moment whether he would give Norrie the honour of winning that set and then retire.
But Andy is made of sterner stuff.
He managed to hang in there, draw simple mistakes from a jittery Norrie and almost take the match in straight sets.
But when Murray lost that second tie-break to his recent practice partner, you wondered what was left in the tank.
Amazingly, the Scot found a new level of aggression. He already knew what it would take to close the match out.
‘I tried to shorten the points in the second and third set,’ he admitted. ‘When we were playing long rallies, he was getting the better of them, I was getting tired.’
Short and sweet. That was the surprising nature of the third set. Now Andy can rest and recuperate.
‘At least I will get a day’s rest before my next match,’ he pointed out gratefully.
And if Murray has to play Dominic Thiem as expected, that could be the end of this particular adventure for the Scot.
Even if he progresses no further, however, Andy should see this run as a triumph. Slowly but surely, his body is learning to cope with successive singles matches.
It will take a lot more work before he can feel confident of taking a genuine shot at another Grand Slam title.
But at this rate a fortnight’s action should definitely feel achievable by the time Wimbledon 2020 comes around.
We all loved watching Murray in action at Wimbledon 2019.
But just imagine the thrill of seeing the British hero in a big singles showdown once more at the home of tennis next summer!
Featured Image: Sport Star, The Hindu.