Mur­ray to clash with old ri­val Wawrinka in French re­run

Scot’s hip or­deal be­gan af­ter los­ing 2017 semi-fi­nal to Swiss Draw puts Konta up against Amer­i­can teen prodigy Gauff

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Si­mon Briggs TEN­NIS COR­RE­SPON­DENT in Paris

This year’s French Open has moved to an un­fa­mil­iar po­si­tion in late Septem­ber. But for Andy Mur­ray, it must feel as if it has trav­elled back in time. Yes­ter­day’s draw handed him a re­match with Stan Wawrinka – the man he lost to in the 2017 semi­fi­nal here.

That five-set rumble was dis­ap­point­ing for Mur­ray on the day, al­though he came away re­flect­ing that a run to the last four was a re­spectable ef­fort af­ter a sea­son dis­rupted by ill­ness and in­jury. He never guessed it would be the last match he ever played with a func­tion­ing – and or­ganic – right hip.

Mur­ray woke up feel­ing un­usu­ally sore the next morn­ing, even by the stan­dards that these ten­nis war­riors are used to. But as the weeks went by, his hip only hurt more when he ex­pected it to heal. The in­jury con­trib­uted to a limp­ing exit from Wim­ble­don just over a month later, then set him off on the bumpy road of op­er­a­tions and re­hab that has con­tin­ued ever since.

And Mur­ray was not the only one. This was a Pyrrhic vic­tory for Wawrinka. He barely trou­bled the scor­ers against an in­spired Rafael Nadal in the 2017 French Open fi­nal, then drew a blank on the grass be­fore un­der­go­ing dou­ble knee surgery later that year. Af­ter beat­ing Mur­ray in that in­fa­mous semi-fi­nal, he would not win another match un­til the 2018 Aus­tralian Open.

As it turns out, the knee is eas­ier for doc­tors to ac­cess and re­pair than the hip. So while Mur­ray now finds him­self ne­go­ti­at­ing un­charted waters as the only man on tour with a metal hip, Wawrinka has re­cov­ered enough of his old vigour to be seeded No16 here. In three of his past four slams, he has reached the quar­ter-fi­nals.

Mur­ray was not the only Bri­ton to draw an in­trigu­ing op­po­nent yes­ter­day, as Jo­hanna Konta was paired with teen sen­sa­tion Coco Gauff. Ad­mit­tedly, Gauff has picked up only a sin­gle vic­tory in her last three tour­na­ments and her re­built serve has yet to set­tle down into a con­sis­tent pat­tern. But she is a fe­ro­cious com­peti­tor who is highly tac­ti­cally as­tute. Both women’s last out­ing came against Gar­bine Mugu­ruza in Rome, and both lost in three sets.

Among the other Bri­tish men, Dan Evans drew Kei Nishikori – another big name com­ing back from in­jury – but Kyle Ed­mund chose to with­draw af­ter a re­cur­rence of the chronic knee pain which blighted his 2019 cam­paign. Ac­cord­ing to his camp, Ed­mund has a treat­ment plan in mind, and did not want to risk ag­gra­vat­ing the is­sue so badly that it wiped out the rest of his sea­son.

Fi­nally, Bri­tish No6 Liam Broady scored a straight-sets vic­tory yes­ter­day over Aus­tralia’s Marc Pol­mans to com­plete a suc­cess­ful week in qual­i­fy­ing and earn a place in the main draw. Af­ter­wards, he said that Mur­ray’s ar­rival in the stands as a spec­ta­tor had helped to lift his mood.

“I started the match pretty badly,” said Broady, “then Andy showed up and I think it def­i­nitely helped a lot. He is a very loud sup­porter. I have got to know him a bit bet­ter over the last few months and it’s been ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic.

“The abuse I got, at the sec­ond Bat­tle of the Brits es­pe­cially, prob­a­bly made it eas­ier to re­main calm in stress­ful sit­u­a­tions this week.”

Reach: Andy Mur­ray prac­tises at Roland Gar­ros yes­ter­day be­fore Sun­day’s French Open start

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.