Andy Murray, the current World No. 838, will take his first steps back to action this week at the Citi Open in Washington, DC. One would imagine that, at least on some level, Murray was thinking of Novak Djokovic when he made his comeback against Mackenzie McDonald in the first round, a match he barely got through.
Both Djokovic and Murray have struggled over the last couple of years, but the Serb looked to be somewhere near his best again when winning Wimbledon last month. Murray will hope that he soon sets off on a similar path to redemption.
However, it is all too easy for us looking in on tennis to compare one set of injuries with another, one recovery with another. Djokovic’s return to the top can act as inspiration for the Brit, but it does not necessarily mean Murray will recover in the same manner.
Murray return delayed several times
Indeed, hip injuries – Murray had surgery on his right hip in January and hasn’t played a Grand Slam in over a year – have a long and tortured history with tennis players. Often, hip surgery can be the death knell for a career. We must also remember that, while Djokovic struggled with injury, he still played sporadically, reaching the second week in a handful of Slams; Murray hasn’t been barely seen on court since July 2017.
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But there is, of course, still hope for Murray. He has been more and more upbeat in recent weeks and we know the Scot is a determined and driven character. In fact, it is interesting to see the US Open odds from 888sport, who have priced Murray at 10/1 to capture his second title at Flushing Meadows.
Those odds make Murray fifth-favourite behind Djokovic (11/4), Federer (7/2), Nadal (7/2) and Zverev (9/1). Surely, that’s some sort of record for a player with Murray’s ranking? Regardless, it tells us that the bookmakers still have some belief in Murray’s ability to make that comeback.
Sharpness may elude Murray at US Open
Even if Murray was on his way to a full recovery, it is difficult to see him being 100% ready for a tournament that starts in less than four weeks. We will see how he fares in Washington, but, setting the injury aside for the moment, it may take more than a few weeks to iron out the wrinkles in his game.
Murray is an intelligent and driven character, but this might be the time for him to make some smart choices about his career. In a way, it may not be Djokovic who he should seek to emulate at this point in his recovery, but rather Roger Federer instead.
Murray can learn from Federer
The Swiss has been masterful in picking and choosing his tournaments over the last few years. Could we see a scenario where Murray perhaps misses the French Open in 2019 to increase his chances of a third Wimbledon title? It’s a long way off, but something to ponder as Murray enters the twilight of his career.
On a side note, it would be nice to see Murray make his way back to full fitness as quickly as possible, just so we can see the ‘Big 4’ go at it once more. Yes, tennis must move on eventually from the ‘Big 4’ era, but it would be something special to see Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray at a Grand Slam. Pretty soon, it may be the last time we get the chance.
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