Mur­ray: I thought of re­tir­ing just weeks be­fore An­twerp ti­tle win

Evening Times - - SPORT -

ANDY MUR­RAY has re­vealed he con­tem­plated re­tire­ment a mat­ter of weeks be­fore win­ning the Euro­pean Open in An­twerp last month.

The for­mer world No.1 is still in the early stages of his come­back from ca­reer-sav­ing hip surgery last Jan­uary, but pin­pointed suc­cess in Asia as a turn­ing point in his re­cov­ery.

After gain­ing more con­fi­dence dur­ing tour­na­ments in Zhuhai, Bei­jing and Shang­hai, the Scot pro­duced a re­mark­able level of con­sis­tency to win in Bel­gium – his first ti­tle since 2017.

Now he is eye­ing a re­turn to sin­gles ac­tion at Wim­ble­don next year and five-set suc­cess at the Aus­tralian Open in Jan­uary.

“Asia was ba­si­cally where I started to re­alise I can do this be­cause at the be­gin­ning of that trip, lit­er­ally two or three days be­fore the first tour­na­ment in Asia, I was hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions with my team,” Mur­ray said.

“I was prac­tis­ing and I was like ‘no, I am giv­ing this un­til the end of the year and if I’m not win­ning matches and feel­ing bet­ter than I am now, I don’t want to keep go­ing’.

“I was putting a lot of ef­fort in but my move­ment wasn’t at the right level. But as I started to play quite a few matches it changed quite quickly. And I thought I was a lot fur­ther away than I was and that was what a lot of guys in the team were say­ing to me.

“They were say­ing ‘you are much closer than you think’ and I won a few matches, started to feel bet­ter and maybe as well I gained more con­fi­dence in my hip. I stopped think­ing about it in matches – which was quite a big step.

“At the be­gin­ning you are think­ing about it after every move­ment you make and that is not a good way to go into com­pet­ing. But now I am not think­ing about it when I’m play­ing.”

Mur­ray was speak­ing ahead of the pre­miere for a fea­ture-length doc­u­men­tary en­ti­tled Andy Mur­ray:

Resur­fac­ing which will be avail­able on Ama­zon Prime Video from Novem­ber 29.

Fol­low­ing a suc­cess­ful pe­riod on the hard courts in Asia, where the dou­ble-Wim­ble­don win­ner de­feated top-10 player Mat­teo Ber­ret­tini and pushed Do­minic Thiem close in Septem­ber, he closed out the sea­son with vic­tory over Stan Wawrinka in the fi­nal in An­twerp.

Now he is ea­ger to chal­lenge him­self in the long­est form, start­ing at the Aus­tralian Open – the scene where Mur­ray made pub­lic the full ex­tent of his hip prob­lems and tear­fully an­nounced he was con­sid­er­ing re­tire­ment.

He added: “I was asked what would be suc­cess in Aus­tralia and I don’t know how I will per­form. I’m not ex­pect­ing to win the tour­na­ment but if I can play a five-set match and get through and have no ill ef­fects on the hip then that is suc­cess.

“Be­cause I know I will be able to com­pete in the ma­jor tour­na­ments with­out hav­ing to worry about it.

“I have played three-set matches and some long ones re­cently, but the best of five is an ex­tra hour, hour-and-a-half on top of that, so I will find out in Aus­tralia.

“If I can get through that tour­na­ment and get through some long matches po­ten­tially feel­ing good it would be a big pos­i­tive.”

A strong Aus­tralian Open would raise the pos­si­bil­ity of Mur­ray com­pet­ing in the sin­gles at Wim­ble­don again and even pos­si­bly in the Olympics.

On the prospect of com­pet­ing at The All Eng­land Club again, Mur­ray replied: “To play there, yes (I’m feel­ing pos­i­tive), but win­ning? No.

“I wouldn’t put my money on me to win the event just now, but if I can get there and be pain-free, I can do well.”

Although he was only able to com­pete in one match for Great Bri­tain at last week’s Davis Cup, he con­firmed he was “ahead of where I ex­pected to be at this stage” with re­gard to his hip.

Quizzed on what age he would con­sider re­tire­ment again, the 32-year-old added: “It de­pends how long the hip lasts, ba­si­cally.

“I could have other in­juries on top of that as well. If I am healthy, I’d love to play for as long as I can.”

Andy Mur­ray, right, with brother Jamie and mother Judy at the world pre­miere of Andy Mur­ray: Resur­fac­ing

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