Tuesday 22 October 2019

Murray considers US Open singles return after Queen's doubles joy

Andy Murray. Photo: PA
Andy Murray. Photo: PA

Simon Briggs

What a script Andy Murray has come up with on his return to professional tennis. After five months of rehabilitation on his metal hip, Murray waltzed back into the game and walked away with the doubles title at Queen's Club - thanks in no small part to the excellence of his partner Feliciano Lopez.

It was such a successful week, and so reassuring from a fitness perspective, that Murray is now considering an earlier return to the singles court. Having previously downplayed his chances of playing best-of-five-set singles tennis this autumn, he said last night that he could potentially participate in the US Open in late August.

"I have a couple of options," Murray said. "After Wimbledon, either I continue with doubles but start training and practising singles through the US Open swing, and then try and maybe play singles after that. Or I take a longer break post-Wimbledon of maybe a month or six weeks to get myself ready for singles and then try and play close to the US Open time."

Yet Murray also emphasised that results and playing schedules were not his priority right now, as he continues to revel in his miraculous comeback. He is still struggling to believe he can play without waking up the next day in crippling pain.

"It's more special than a lot of the singles tournaments that I have won for a lot of different reasons," Murray said after he and Lopez beat Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram.

"It had been probably five or six years that after matches I would get some pain and aching and throbbing [in the hip]. You would just anticipate and be waiting for that to happen. And it doesn't any more, and it's brilliant.

"I got so much enjoyment and happiness after winning a first-round doubles match here that that's enough. I don't have to be getting to the US Open and be really competitive or have to win the tournament for me to enjoy it."

Murray's tennis IQ has always been Mensa-level, but his decision to partner the winner of this week's singles event put him in crystal-ball territory.

Lopez delivered the goods, especially during the first-to-10-point tie-break that replaces a deciding set in ATP doubles matches.

From 4-4, Lopez produced five straight winners to earn a 9-4 advantage. Murray then chiselled out one final point with an unreturned serve, and the sentimental favourites were home 7-6, 5-7, 1-0 (10-5).

For all Murray's strength of character and sharp-eyed returns, Lopez was surely the best player on the court - as he had been earlier while beating Gilles Simon in a close-fought singles final. It was a good day for 37-year-olds on the men's tour, as not only Lopez but also Roger Federer - who was born a month earlier in 1981 - claimed titles. In Federer's case, he overcame David Goffin by a 7-6, 6-1 scoreline in the final of the Gerry Weber Open. (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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