Tennis Prose



Murray Unlikely To Compete With Djokovic, Nadal and Co. Again

Andy Murray will have to get used to the idea that he’ll never be able to compete at the top table of men’s tennis again. That’s the view of seven-time Grand Slam winner John Newcombe, who believes Murray’s hip problems and length of time on the sidelines has left him too much to do if he’s to play at the same level as the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. 75-year-old Newcombe, who knows a thing or two about being at the top of the sport having been ATP world no. 1 in both the men’s singles and doubles rankings, fears the “chronic nature” of Murray’s hip issues will prevent him from winning more Grand Slams.

This time last year, it looked like the writing was on the wall for the Scotsman’s career. He tried to play at the 2019 Australian Open Grand Slam curtain-raiser, but was in too much pain and limped out of the tournament. Undeterred, Murray underwent significant hip resurfacing surgery and made a surprise return to action in the back end of the 2019 season, including a European Open title victory in October.

Davis Cup disappointment for Murray

Unfortunately, Murray picked up another injury during his appearance for the UK in the Davis Cup, and the 32-year-old has not set foot on a court since. February has seen Murray withdraw from another two major events, this time in Rotterdam and Montpellier. Murray has revealed the main issue with his recovery is due to bone bruising “taking longer to heal than first thought.” It’s believed that the bruising has appeared around his thigh bone, which had a metal insert positioned against it to repair Murray’s right hip.

It was a typically gruelling and arduous five-set match in the Davis Cup in November that caused this flare-up, with Murray insisting that he was “going to listen to [his] body” and only return to the court “when the time is right.” According to Murray’s former consultant and confidant over the clay court season Alex Corretja, Murray’s best plan would be to try and get fit for a handful of spring tournaments, but avoid the temptation of entering the French Open in order to be as fit as possible for Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Murray should have his eyes firmly fixed on the grass court season

Caption: The physical demands of clay courts are unlikely to suit Murray’s body going forward

Corretja was a tremendous support for Murray for three years during the clay court seasons between 2008 and 2011, with the Spaniard a former French Open finalist himself. Corretja believes the “demanding” nature of Roland Garros and the lengthy rallies means that Murray shouldn’t even be considering playing in Paris and should instead be focusing on getting ready for Queen’s.

It’s fair to say that avoiding the French Open has done wonders for Murray’s form in the past. Back in 2013, the Scotsman won his first Wimbledon after pulling out of the French Open due to back spasms sustained at the Rome Masters. Once again, Murray’s body is telling him not to overdo it and to be even more selective about the tournaments he plays.

Of course, there is always the fear in the back of everyone’s mind that this could be the end for Murray, who has proved such an inspiration for many youngsters and indeed his fellow professionals.

According to the Telegraph, medical experts have voiced their concerns that bone bruises are normally a sure-fire sign of “abnormal stresses” on the thigh bone. These experts believe the stresses are caused by the metal implants fitted during his hip resurfacing, which “do not bend” in action and therefore “transmit forces” into his other bones. The only effective treatment would “normally be to rest”, but the worry is that lengthy rest in between tournaments will leave Murray far too ring-rusty to make an impact on court.

Murray’s former rival Djokovic continues to star

While Murray comes to terms with his latest injury setback, the Scot has had to sit and watch his former rival Novak Djokovic move closer to the all-time record for Grand Slam titles. Djokovic came from 2-1 down in sets to defeat Dominic Thiem in January’s Australian Open final, taking him to 17 Grand Slams, just three behind Roger Federer.

Djokovic looks less likely to prevail in the next Grand Slam in Paris, with Rafael Nadal virtually unbeatable at Roland Garros through the years. His impeccable win record at the French Open explains why the likes of FOX Bet have him priced as low as -110 to get his 12th French Open title in 2020. Newcomers to the FOX Bet brand can also take advantage of their latest signup promotions to get free funds to spend on any upcoming tennis match.

Djokovic was pushed all the way by Dominic Thiem in Melbourne, with the Austrian recently revealing that he’s trying to channel inspiration from the Grand Slam successes of Andy Murray to keep him going after a third straight Grand Slam final defeat. This was the first time Thiem had made the Australian Open final, but in the last two seasons he has fallen at the final hurdle at Roland Garros.

The Austrian remains upbeat, inspired by the past the achievements of Andy Murray, who also bounced back from several Grand Slam final losses to eventually get himself firmly on the scoreboard. Thiem felt that he was “close” to overcoming Djokovic in Melbourne, admitting that his first two French Open final defeats to Rafael Nadal were “clear” and he was “far away” from being a serious contender. It was in Murray’s fifth Grand Slam final that he eventually bagged a Grand Slam, winning the 2012 US Open at Flushing Meadows.

2012 was very much a breakthrough year for Murray, after bagging gold at the London Olympics, as well as his triumph in New York. That broke the back of all the stresses and strains Murray had been feeling at the final hurdle, giving him the mental durability to prevail and win Wimbledon the following year. Dominic Thiem is certainly the most likely contender to break the dominance of the “Big Three” of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer. Once he wins his first Grand Slam, many believe the floodgates will open.

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  • Jeff · February 14, 2020 at 8:04 pm

    Newcombe is right. Murray is done.

  • Andrew Miller · February 14, 2020 at 10:56 pm

    Murray will have a few more highlights. But in terms of being “done” winning singles slams, that’s been the case for a while.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 15, 2020 at 8:34 am

    Murray was so close to singles glory again. He just cant grind out those physical singles wins anymore. Murray was the ultimate grinder.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 15, 2020 at 8:35 am

    Not done in doubles. Hopefully.

  • David · February 15, 2020 at 12:35 pm

    (I apologize if this is too lengthy as I just stumbled, thankfully, upon this site about ten days ago and may not be familiar with all of the site’s protocols.)

    I don’t think Murray will ever again seriously contend for a Slam but I am just happy he is back. Though, I wish he were injury and pain free. Not that I am a doctor, but I always thought he should have come back, post surgery, and played doubles, exclusively, with his brother. I think such as Bob Bryan, he would be able to withstand the wear & tear of doubles far more than singles. Plus, they’d be a formidable team. I think they would seriously contend for any tournament title they entered. He’d never catch McEnroe in overall titles (John’s combined singles and doubles titles will likely never be approached by any man going forward as it has to be somewhere in the 150-200 [though closer to the lower number] range which is astounding when you think about it). But, that doesn’t have to be the goal.

    I think inspiration should come from another sport (baseball) where he can emulate another all time great, John Smoltz, who sort of blew out his arm while becoming one of the best starting pitchers but then came back post-rehabilitation and altered his arm angle and delivery and became the best NL relief pitcher for the remainder of his career. Their respective ages when encountering these difficulties would be somewhat similar, too. Smoltz was a top-shelf starter till he was around 30, or early thirties, then pitched the next near decade as a wonderful reliever. He had an unusual career, no doubt, with probably 200+ wins and 300+ saves. Like McEnroe’s titles, we may never see anything like that again. The Murrays could play effective doubles into their early to mid 40’s, in my gauge. They’d be very similar to the Bryans in this regard; brothers, lefty-righty combo, though with differing complementary strengths. I have NO idea if he has any interest in this, though. If he didn’t want to play with his brother (and maybe his brother is committed elsewhere) Andy could always team up with Jack Sock (whose best days going forward, in my view, are via doubles). Who knows maybe it would rekindle interest in doubles as Andy has quite a following and his come back story alone is compelling.

    For a variety of reasons, and it’s not talked about much since it is sort of arcane, no one (unless they were a freak) will ever approach McEnroe’s “record” (I assume it is a record, certainly an Open Era record). Unless an all time great singles champ hated practice as much as John did, plus was wonderfully suited for doubles and liked team camaraderie, they probably wouldn’t even play doubles let alone play it well or long enough while their singles career was on high. I hope Andy takes the “Smoltz route” as the tour is better when he is present (plus he, reputedly, is a helluva nice, smart & funny guy but whose on-Court singles demeanor belied those attributes. Maybe he’d be more “fun” to watch in doubles.)

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 15, 2020 at 2:21 pm

    David, thanks for finding us, however you did. Welcome. Agree Andy is a valued personality and champion for the ATP landscape, and the most normal of the big four, several players said this in my Facing Andy Murray book. It seems Andy really wants singles action and doubles doesn’t really what his competitive appetite. Though he is a fine and underrated doubles player. Several top doubles guys told me Andy’s doubles instincts are underrated. Hopefully Andy in pushing so hard to be a singles champion again, does not wreck his body for doubles too.



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