Tear­ful Mur­ray calls time

UK’s great­est male player in the modern era has bat­tled to heal after hip surgery

Daily Dispatch - - Sport -

Ten­nis ace Andy Mur­ray’s tear­ful an­nounce­ment Fri­day that he’ll be forced to re­tire this year prompted a vol­ley of trib­utes to the man, fond rec­ol­lec­tions of a his­toric ca­reer and en­cour­age­ment to serve up a fit­ting farewell.

Amer­i­can star Andy Rod­dick led the trib­utes to the for­mer world num­ber one, de­scrib­ing his 11-time op­po­nent as an “ab­so­lute leg­end” who is on the “short list of best tac­ti­cians” in the his­tory of the sport.

“Un­real re­sults in a bru­tal era. Noth­ing but re­spect here. I hope he can fin­ish strong and healthy,” he said.

Mur­ray’s fail­ure to re­cover from a long-term hip in­jury has put his dream to win next week’s Aus­tralian Open al­most be­yond reach.

Such is the level of pain that there is spec­u­la­tion he may not be able to go the dis­tance, much less set up a dream farewell at Wim­ble­don this July.

Ar­gentina’s Juan Martin del Potro – who fell short against Mur­ray in a mem­o­rable 2016 Olympic gold medal game – urged him not to throw in the towel.

“Andy, just watched your con­fer­ence. Please don’t stop try­ing. Keep fight­ing,” he wrote.

“I can imag­ine your pain and sad­ness. I hope you can over­come this. You de­serve to re­tire on your own terms, when­ever that hap­pens. We love you @andy–mur­ray and we want to see you happy and do­ing well.”

The sen­ti­ment was echoed by ten­nis’ women stars, who Mur­ray cham­pi­oned – fa­mously re­buk­ing a jour­nal­ist for gloss­ing over Amer­i­can greats like Ser­ena Wil­liams ar­gu­ing for equal billing on the cen­tre courts.

In­dian star Sa­nia Mirza dubbed him her “forever­favourite” and a “#forever­acham­pion”.

Leg­end Bil­lie Jean King de­clared him a “cham­pion on and off the court”.

“Your great­est im­pact on the world may be yet to come. Your voice for equal­ity will in­spire fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.”

That sen­ti­ment was echoed by Bel­gian four-time ma­jor win­ner Kim Cli­jsters, who like many could not help but be moved by Mur­ray’s an­nounce­ment.

“My heart breaks lis­ten­ing to @andy–mur­ray dur­ing his press con­fer­ence,” she tweeted.

It is in his na­tive Britain that the an­nounce­ment will be per­haps most keenly felt.

Mur­ray’s sta­tus as the great­est Bri­tish male player in sev­eral gen­er­a­tions meant he car­ried the ex­pec­ta­tions of a na­tion on to the court. By meet­ing them, his im­pact tran­scended ten­nis.

Many hoped he can muster the strength and fit­ness to re­turn to the All Eng­land Club – where he twice won in fairy­tale fash­ion – for a ca­reer fi­nale.

“He de­serves his mo­ment to say good­bye at Wim­ble­don. He’s too im­por­tant to Great Britain and Wim­ble­don his­tory to not have it,” said Rod­dick.

“He just needs to play match for the good­bye he

US Davis Cup cap­tain Mardy Fish pointed to Mur­ray’s fa­mous de­ter­mi­na­tion, which helped him com­pete against stronger and more skilled play­ers.

“The @andy–mur­ray that I know will ab­so­lutely make it to Wim­ble­don to play his fi­nal tour­na­ment,” he tweeted.

“Not many with more heart, ef­fort in the his­tory of the game.” —AFP

Your great­est im­pact on the world may be yet to come. How­ever your voice for equal­ity will in­spire fu­ture gen­er­a­tions

any de­serves.”

Pic­ture: SCOTT BAR­BOUR/GETTY IM­AGES

DEV­AS­TATED: Andy Mur­ray of Great Britain an­nounces his in­ten­tion to re­tire from the game ei­ther at the Aus­tralian Open this month or, if he can bat­tle through the pain, at Wim­ble­don later this year.

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