Andy Murray must really love tennis. At least it would be better, considering what he’s going through Every game in the past few years And over the course of his career. It’s like he can’t get off the field when there have definitely been times ought to Getting off the field, both in making his win easier and what his body is telling him to do. its just always there.
Immediately, Murray reached the third round of the Australian Open after outlasting, surviving, and/or besting Thansi Kokkinakis in five sets, and more by five and a half hours. Murray came back from two sets down, which was the opposite of his first round Iron Man On A Hardcourt when he was two sets ahead of Marco Berrettini, blew that lead, then grabbed the fifth set. In just two games, Murray spent only about 10 hours on court. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic have won the most by spending more time on the court than they do over the course of seven matches.
Why are Murray’s matches so long?
Even at his peak, when Murray made the Big Three, the Big Four, he always seemed to make things harder than they need to be. There was a bit of explosiveness in his game. He was one of the best returns the sport had ever seen, but his serve was not so dominant that opponents could at least not get into service matches. It was his fitness and defense Only these other three have matched him, and the toughness of his game has made him a diet light version of Djokovic. But he really should have been persuaded to go for winners rather than stretch the points until the slots were unmissable or his opponents broke. It was always grinding.
His match against Kokkakanis was no different. The Australian has a huge serve, Murray could only break his serve five times in five sets, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have chances. The final swing break of the game came late in the fifth game on only his eighth break point in that game and the one in the previous, as he had blew a 0-40 lead on Kokkinakis’ previous serve game. Overall, he went 5-for-22 with just a chance to break. Murray had to play more. There were 71 points in the game over nine shots. That’s a whole bunch’s worth, but that’s how Murray goes. It just never stops.
His match with Matteo Berrettini lasted so long only because Murray fell into familiar habits when he played two sets, trying to make up points to perfection, no matter how long it took. Murray always wanted to walk the ball into the net, as it were. But giving someone with big guns so that Berrettini has more time to find his game means he’s more likely to find his range, and Berrettini found the radar on his aggressiveness and buried Murray under an avalanche of winners. Only when Murray went for more than a backboard in the deciding set did he take it out.
This is the way
But then, it’s all a metaphor for Murray’s career. It’s never been easy. Murray has already retired once, when the pain in his hip simply became too much. And no one would have batted an eye if that had been it. He had three majors to his name, a handful of additional finals, more money than he’ll ever know what to do with, had ended the cartoonish wait for a British winner of Wimbledon which by itself assured that his name will live forever (funny how whenever he lost he was Scottish but when he won he was British, no?).
Murray was unsure the hip-resurfacing surgery he had would allow him back on the court, and again, it would have been far simpler had he not even tried. And yet he came back. He hasn’t been a threat to win any major, and likely won’t be again. He hasn’t been past the third round since his surgery. He doesn’t have to be out here, much like he didn’t have to make so many matches about what he can go through versus what his opponent can’t.
And yet, here he is, with his age and condition limiting his mobility just enough that it only folds him up in his grinding/suffering style that makes him happiest. He doesn’t quite have the time he developed when he was younger to finally start going for more and hitting more winners and shortening matches. He just has his ability to think and to run and to suffer. He makes tennis sufferball. We know how much he enjoys being miserable given the stories about his workouts. His 10400m run less than 85 seconds 10 times with the same amount of rest only sounds like the eighth level of hell. Perhaps this is just the nature of the Scots. Did you see the weather there?
Like Venus WilliamsAndy Murray is here for the purpose of being here. They both love to play, they both see no reason to stop. But while Williams continues to play from what appears to be sheer joy, Murray is here because he can seem to think of nowhere else and away from an almost psychotic sense of duty. He is here simply because he cannot leave, and therefore he is never here. Which, in Murray’s mind, is the same joy.