Sunday 21 July 2019

Murray insists that he can still compete with the best around

Serena Williams and Andy Murray make their way towards the ball during their mixed doubles victory at Wimbledon. Photo: Reuters
Serena Williams and Andy Murray make their way towards the ball during their mixed doubles victory at Wimbledon. Photo: Reuters

Daniel Schofield

An upbeat Andy Murray believes that he can return to his former heights as a singles player after stating that the men's game has not moved on in his absence.

After missing last year's Wimbledon with a long-standing hip problem, Murray has returned to action at the championships, albeit in the doubles with Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the men's competition and Serena Williams in the mixed event.

Murray and Herbert crashed out in the second round, beaten in four sets by sixth seeds Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2, 6-3.

The 32-year-old had discussed retirement because of the chronic pain from his hip before January's Australian Open, in which he last competed in singles competition.

However, following a successful 'resurfacing' operation - in which a metal cap was placed on his right hip socket - Murray's mood has been transformed.

Without pain and moving freely on court, he has not put a date on his return in the singles, but it is clear that he feels he can return to his place alongside Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the top of the game.

"I know how bad I felt in Australia and how bad I felt the last year that I played singles here, and I feel better now than I did then," Murray said.

"So if physically I can get back to a good level, my tennis is still fine. I'm sure that, tennis-wise, I will be able to keep up with guys. I don't feel the game has moved on and I won't be able to get back.

"A lot of the same guys are still there. Why not? If someone can give me a reason why I shouldn't be able to compete again, I would listen to it, but I haven't really been given one," he added.

Murray's comments are partly a reflection of how the next generation of players have so far failed to challenge the continuing hegemony of the 'Big Three', who incredibly have a combined age of 102.

At the start of the second week of the championships, there are just two players under 27 left in the men's draw - Matteo Berrettini (23) and Ugo Humbert (21), who face Federer and Djokovic respectively.

However, even as Wimbledon hots up, Murray - who this year won the men's doubles with Feliciano Lopez at Queen's - says that he is not desperately pining to play in a singles competition.

"No, not really," he said. "It's just different, singles and doubles. There is a lot more self-analysis in singles. It's your responsibility.

"The thing that is nice with doubles is that when you win you are winning with someone else and it is enjoyable. When me and Feli won at Queen's, we went out and bonded with each other, had dinner and that sort of stuff.

"In singles at the end of matches it is on you and that is the thing I've always had that is kind of different to doubles really."

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