Fed­erer ‘shocked’, Djokovic ‘hurt’ by Mur­ray re­tire­ment bomb­shell

Manila Times - - Sports -

MEL­BOURNE: Roger Fed­erer ad­mit­ted Sun­day he was shocked that ten­nis was to lose “leg­end” Andy Mur­ray this year while long-time friend No­vak Djokovic said the bomb­shell news had “hurt” him.

Both paid trib­ute to the for­mer world num­ber one on the eve of the year’s first Grand Slam with Fed­erer adding that the Scot should be “in­cred­i­bly proud” of what he had achieved.

Mur­ray on Fri­day ad­mit­ted that his chronic hip in­jury had not been eased by surgery a year ago.

He then choked back tears and broke down as he re­vealed that he hoped to end his sto­ried ca­reer at Wim­ble­don, but the Aus­tralian Open be­gin­ning Mon­day could be his last event be­cause the con­stant pain was so bad.

“I was dis­ap­pointed and sad, a lit­tle bit shocked, to know now that we’re go­ing to lose him at some point,” Fed­erer told re­porters.

“But we’re go­ing to lose ev­ery­body at some point. It’s just now that it’s def­i­nite,” he added, ac­knowl­edg­ing that the era of the “Big Four” — him­self, Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Mur­ray was draw­ing in­ex­orably to a close.

“Of course, it hits us top guys hard be­cause we know Andy very well,” the world num­ber three said of the three-time Grand Slam cham­pion and dou­ble Olympic gold medal win­ner.

“He’s a good guy, Hall of Famer, leg­end. He won ev­ery­thing he wanted to win. Any­body would sub­sti­tute their ca­reer with his. He’s a great guy.”

World num­ber one Djokovic played Mur­ray in a prac­tice match three days ago and said it was ob­vi­ous that there were se­ri­ous prob­lems.

“You didn’t need to be on court to no­tice that he’s strug­gling, that he’s not mov­ing as well as he nor­mally does,” said Djokovic, 31, who is just a week Roger Fed­erer (left) and No­vak Djokovic younger than Mur­ray.

“We’ve seen so many years of Andy Mur­ray be­ing one of the fittest guys on the tour, run­ning around the court, get­ting al­ways an ex­tra ball back.

“I think to that ex­tent, we are kind of sim­i­lar. Our tra­jec­tory to the pro­fes­sional ten­nis world was pretty much sim­i­lar,” added the Serb, who faces Amer­i­can Mitchell Krueger in the first round on Tues­day.

“His birth­day is one week be­fore mine. We’ve grown to­gether play­ing ju­nior events. We played lots of epic matches.

“Ob­vi­ously to see him strug­gle so much and go through so much pain, it’s very sad and it hurts me as his long­time friend, col­league, ri­val.

“I will carry beau­ti­ful mem­o­ries from the court and off the court. It’s just sad.”

Mur­ray has won Wim­ble­don twice and Fed­erer hoped the Scot could keep play­ing long enough to be able to say good­bye on his fa­vorite fa­mous grass courts.

“Of course, I hope that he can play a good Aus­tralian Open and he can keep play­ing be­yond that, re­ally fin­ish the way he wants to at Wim­ble­don,” said 20time Grand Slam cham­pion, who be­gins his Aus­tralian Open ti­tle de­fense Mon­day against De­nis Is­tomin.

“It’s a tough one, but one down the road he can look back on and be in­cred­i­bly proud of ev­ery­thing he has achieved.”

Mur­ray was the first British man to win Wim­ble­don in 77 years and will be re­mem­bered for bat­tling his way to world num­ber one in 2016 dur­ing a golden era for men’s ten­nis along­side Fed­erer, Djokovic and Nadal.

Mur­ray faces a first-round clash Mon­day against in­form Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, seeded 22, who beat Djokovic on his was to win­ning the Qatar Open ear­lier this month. AFP

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