GOODBYE ANDY MURRAY
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.
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic