After struggling past James Duckworth in the first round, Andy Murray’s US Open ended this Wednesday with a four-set loss against Fernando Verdasco. While not really a surprising result considering all the circumstances, it is one that shows just how long a way back is ahead of the Scot if he is to return to the heights he had reached before his injury.
There were many glimpses of Murray’s legendary defensive skills in this match, which shows that some of his tennis is still intact, but at the same time his serve and groundstrokes left a lot to be desired and he didn’t look to have the stamina necessary to compete in best-of-5. In fairness to Murray, Verdasco is always a tricky opponent early in Slams for the top players; he might be incredibly inconsistent and mentally suspect but on his day he can overpower anybody. Losing to him is no shame, especially when you’re playing your first Grand Slam tournament in over a year.
As easy as it would be to jump into conclusions after this result and performance, the reality is that it’s still too early to predict how successful Murray’s return to the tour will be. He looks a shadow of his former self right now, but there’s no telling whether it’s recoverable or not. By early 2019 we should have a much better indication of what to expect from Murray for the rest of his career. It could be the case that the injury was so serious that there’s no way back, but at the same time we don’t have enough information to rule it out and we have quite a few successful comeback stories in the current ATP tour–most notably Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. It is simply too early to make any definite statements regarding Murray’s future.
After this win, Verdasco goes on to face Juan Martin del Potro in the third round on Friday.
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