After undergoing a second operation for a hip replacement, Andy Murray’s career in tennis appeared to be at an end. However, the Scot displayed resili
After undergoing a second operation for a hip replacement, Andy Murray’s career in tennis appeared to be at an end. However, the Scot displayed resilience and determination to return to the court in 2021. Murray appeared at two Grand Slams, including Wimbledon, where he reached the third round of the competition before being beaten by Denis Shapovalov. The 34-year-old also took Stefanos Tsitsipas all the way to a fifth set in the first round of the US Open.
It was clear that Murray was far from the peak of his powers, but after a lengthy spell on the sidelines, he ensured that he was competitive on the court in his attempts to make a journey back to the top. Murray is a long way from matching Novak Djokovic, the Australian Open favourite currently priced at 7/5, in the odds for betting on tennis at Betfair at the moment, although he is optimistic that he can take the time in the off-season to make significant strides forward in his comeback.
When a player returns to action after a serious injury, finding form and confidence can be extremely difficult. In the early months of 2021, Murray was slowly feeling his way into a rhythm, attempting to trust his two metal hips. He did reach the final of the ATP Challenger Biella event, only to suffer a defeat at the hands of Illya Marchenko. In his senior ATP Tour matches, the Scot was beaten in straight sets by Andrey Rublev and Matteo Berrettini, proving that he was not quite ready to take on the top-ten players in the world rankings.
Wimbledon was the turning point for the two-time All England Club champion as he rose to the occasion spectacularly on Centre Court to defeat 24th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili before advancing to the third round. Shapovalov had too much quality around the court for Murray to handle, but after the rigours of a five-set match against Oscar Otte, it was a lot to ask of the Scot due to the quick turnaround. The stronger players on the tour would halt Murray’s charge over the next two months, losing further matches to Hubert Hurkacz and Frances Tiafoe.
The US Open was the biggest sign that Murray appears to be on the right track. The 34-year-old rolled back the years to dominate Tsitsipas, who was forced into delaying tactics to stymie Murray’s momentum. The Greek eventually found his rhythm to take the final two sets, but the hunger and desire was there in abundance from the former world number one.
In his final competition of the campaign, Murray produced arguably his most impressive performance of the year to overcome the rising star of Jannik Sinner in straight sets at the Stockholm Open. He used his experience to great effect to overcome Sinner to advance to the quarter-finals where he did lose to American cc.
The Scot is not quite at the stage where he can string back-to-back performances together, which will no doubt frustrate him. However, there are encouraging signs that Murray still has the quality on the court to match the best, he just needs to sustain his form over a period to gradually work his way up the rankings once again.