The Gulf Today - Business - - SPORT ATTACK -

The sud­den dis­in­te­gra­tion of Mur­ray’s ca­reer — at a rel­a­tively young age — shouldn’t ob­scure the fact that he still en­joyed a pretty de­cent run. Of course it feels pre­ma­ture, and is. But in a his­tor­i­cal con­text, a 14-year ca­reer in the up­per cham­bers of men’s ten­nis is ac­tu­ally fairly av­er­age. It’s one fewer than Boris Becker and Mats Wi­lan­der; one more than Ste­fan Ed­berg; the same as Pete Sam­pras. The trou­ble is that for vir­tu­ally his en­tire adult life, these are not the play­ers Mur­ray has been judged against.

Mur­ray wasn’t a freak of tech­nique like Roger Fed­erer, nor a freak of en­durance like Rafa Nadal, nor a freak of physics like No­vak Djokovic. In many ways, HE was all too hu­man. He didn’t have an earth-shat­ter­ing serve or a gi­gan­tic fore­hand, or even the ad­van­tage of left-hand­ed­ness. What he did have was plenty of speed, bun­dles of in­tel­li­gence and the pure, un­tram­melled de­sire that al­lowed him to hold his own in the most bru­tally com­pet­i­tive era men’s ten­nis has ever seen.

His three Grand Slams might have been worth twice that in an­other era. The counter-ar­gu­ment, of course, is that the mur­der­ous pur­suit of Fed­erer, NADAL AND Djokovic Is what HAULED HIM to such oth­er­worldly stan­dards in the irst PLACE. Wit­ness THE Clos­ing stages of THE 2013 WIM­BLE­DON inal AGAINST Djokovic, A PAS­SAGE of play Dur­ing which Mur­ray emp­tied him­self so thor­oughly that he could barely re­call it af­ter­wards. Such was the im­mense ef­fort of keep­ing pace with the sport’s great­est ever gen­er­a­tion, and per­haps it was no sur­prise in ret­ro­spect that he even­tu­ally broke him­self try­ing.

In­juries plagued Mur­ray from CHILD­HOOD. At THE AGE of 17 HE was di­ag­nosed with a split patella and ad­vised that he would prob­a­bly never play ten­nis at a high level. Five years later, he re­luc­tantly bowed to pres­sure from coaches and team-mates and played A CRU­CIAL DAVIS Cup TIE AGAINST Poland, de­spite a se­ri­ous wrist in­jury that he ended up ag­gra­vat­ing. It was both his gift and his ul­ti­mate curse that he was so adept at play­ing through pain, shout­ing down the screeches of his own body in pur­suit of ex­cel­lence.

Rafael Nadal

Ser­bia’s No­vak Djokovic

Roger Fed­erer

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