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Being Andy Murray in the era of the ‘Big Three’

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Probably he was born in the wrong era. Probably he has been overlooked. Probably he has not got the credit that he deserved. Andy Murray is a man who is blessed with a booming serve, a man who is excellent at the return of the serve, and when he is in his element, his powerful forehand is one of the very best in the game.

But then, this man was lost in the luster of the illustrious triumvirate that Tennis celebrates with fervor- the artistic Federer, the defiant Nadal, and the ruthless Djokovic. Andy Murray was ranked No.1 in the world in the year 2012, he beat Federer in the prestigious Olympic Games in the same year, and is the first Britisher in almost nine decades to win the Wimbledon.

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But then, at a time when Federer has turned into a perennial crowd favourite, at a time when Nadal has emerged as the king of the clay court, and at a time when Djokovic has given resilience a new meaning, Murray has been pushed to the background.

Probably, if he had been born in another era, he would won far more Grand Slams, probably if he was born in another era, he would have been celebrated even more. But then, just like how the likes of Laxman and Dravid never got the recognition that they deserved due to the presence of the iconic Sachin Tendulkar, Andy Murray too, has been an unsung hero in the sport of Tennis, overshadowed by the most celebrated triumvirate in history- Federer, Nadal and Djokovic.

Rise of Andy Murray

While Federer had obtained a stranglehold of the Tennis world in the early 2000’s and Nadal had emerged as a force in the later part of the first decade of the new millennium, Djokovic and Murray were just small pieces in the bigger narrative. But then, after Djokovic showed the world that he belongs to the big stage by winning the 2011 Australian Open, Murray too got the crowning moment of his career at the 2012 US Open, winning the first Grand Slam of his career.

Andy Murray Wimbledon 2013 celebration
Credits: Wikipedia)

As the forehand from Djokovic landed long after a 4 hour 54 minute epic, Murray dropped his racket to the ground, and covered his face, overwhelmed by the moment. It was the peak of his career, as he won the first Grand Slam of his career and the crowd rose as one to applaud the Brit.

Also, only earlier in the year, he had defeated Federer in the 2012 Olympic games to obtain the singles gold, and now by winning the US Open in the same year, Murray was showing the world that he was a talent to watch out for.

Andy Murray also won the 2013 Wimbledon final by defeating Djokovic in straight sets, and gave Britian its proudest Tennis moment in almost eight decades. It looked as if a new star would challenge the hegemony of Federer and Nadal at the top, along with Djokovic.

But then, Murray suffered an injury at the end of the 2013 season, and was pushed to the background.

For the next three years, Murray could not taste much success even though he made the finals in three Grand Slam tournaments in that period. His next moment of glory came in the year 2016, when he defeated Milos Raonic to lift the Wimbledon title for the second time.

Final hurdle

Andy Murray
(Credits: Fickr)

The below table gives an account of every Grand Slam final competed by Murray in his career till date.

YearWon/LossTournamentOpponent
2008LossUS OpenFederer
2010LossAustralian OpenFederer
2011LossAustralian OpenDjokovic
2012LossWimbledonFederer
2012WinUS OpenDjokovic
2013LossAustralian OpenDjokovic
2013WinWimbledonDjokovic
2015LossAustralian OpenDjokovic
2016LossAustralian OpenDjokovic
2016LossFrench OpenDjokovic
2016WinWimbledonRaonic

From the above table, we can see that Andy Murray has appeared in as many as 11 Grand Slam finals in his career but has won only 3. All his losses have been to either Djokovic or Federer. In fact, Murray has never managed to beat Federer in a Grand Slam final even once in his career.

And that is why, if not for the likes of Federer and Djokovic, Murray’s Grand Slam tally would have even been in double digits.

Retirement

Andy Murray Why
Credits: Wikimedia commons)

The injury woes for the Brit started in the year 2017, when he withdrew from an exhibition tournament on the eve of Wimbledon due to a sore hip. And from there on, Murray has battled a plethora of injuries. In fact, ahead of Wimbledon in 2017, Murray spoke about the injury and how difficult it has been for him.

It is something that I have been dealing with since I was 22 or 23 years old.”

He was also forced to withdraw from the 2017 US Open due to the hip issue once again. In early January the following year, Andy Murray even underwent hip surgery, and was out of action for more than six months. Even though he made another attempt to return in July 2018, in September in the same year, the hip issue resurfaced once again, and that was probably the last nail in the coffin.

Murray announced that he would retire after Wimbledon in 2019, and shocked the Tennis world. Perhaps the injury was too much for him to handle, perhaps it wreaked havoc on his body, and he couldn’t handle the pain.

Not over yet

However, there was still a burning desire that was raging inside him to hold the racket once more. And that is why, after another surgery, Murray made a sensational comeback in August 2019, and when he stepped into the court, there were massive cheers for the man who had come back from the brink.

Today, Murray is ranked 85th in the world, and not a contender for a Grand Slam title anymore. But then, we shall have to saluté the man for his grit, his burning ambition to do what he loves the most driving him forward.

Murray is the man who did not get the credit that he deserved. He is a man who would have won a lot more titles, had injuries not plagued his career. He is a legend in his own right, a man who should not be judged only by the number of Grand Slam titles that he won.

For, if we confine him to only the numbers, we will do grave injustice to a hero in the world of Sport.

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