Andy Murray’s year to forget

The former British number one has endured a very tough year

The Tipster
By The Tipster
Andy Murray Photo: Marianne Bevis

It’s fair to say that Andy Murray hasn’t had the best of years.

Tumbling from world number one at the end of 2016, to an incredible low of 839 in the world in July this year, his fall from the top has been precipitous.

However, things could be on the turn as Murray rose 457 places in the August rankings, although that still leaves him 375th in the world and 8th in Britain.

So what has happened to Andy Murray and can he find a way back before the end of the year? Looking back at his form he’s certainly been plagued by injury problems, but he does have US Open prospects, if he chooses to complete.

2017 – the wheels start coming off

Murray started 2017 as world number one, after a fantastic season that saw him win Wimbledon, take gold at the Olympics and reach the finals of the French and Australian Opens. He also won the season ending Tour Finals. This meant he took a run of 28 straight wins to the Qatar Open final, only to lose to Novak Djokovic.

Photo: Marianne Bevis

His 2017 season seemed to go downhill from there. A fourth round exit in the Australian Open was followed by a second round exit at Indian Wells, a third round exit in Madrid and a second round exit (as defending champion) in the Italian Open. All of these disappointments were punctuated by just a win at Dubai, Murray’s only APT tour win all year.

Things did look to be picking up, however, with the Scot securing a semi final placing at Roland Garros in the French Open.

However, he would soon take another dive with a first round defeat at the Wimbledon warm-up -Queens. This foreshadowed an early exit from the All England Club, with Murray departing Wimbledon at the quarter final stage. Struggling with his game, and even limping openly on some occasions, Murray was clearly not the player he was twelve months earlier and something dramatic needed to be done.

Surgery and an extended break

Despite hopes of a comeback for the US Open, Murray admitted defeat and headed home in late 2017 to see specialists about his ongoing hip problems. He went on to announce in January that he had undergone surgery and would be out until the grass court season. However, as that season approached, it was clear he was far from ready to return.

After cancelling a number of planned returns in early 2018, Murray finally took to the courts of Queens after 342 days away from the game, only to lose his first round match against Nick Kyrgios.

His alternative route to Wimbledon was slightly more successful with a win against Wawrinka, but he would lose the next round to his replacement at the top of British tennis – Kyle Edmund. After such a disappointing warm up, his withdrawal from Wimbledon was almost inevitable.

A second return

Photo: Marianne Bevis

After a further break, Andy Murray has had a little more luck in his second comeback, physically at least. His hip held together well enough for him to reach the quarter finals of the Citi Open, but he still had to pull out after crazy scheduling left him finishing his last 16 game at 3am in the morning of his quarter final.

He withdrew from the Washington Open and lost in Cincinatti in the first round, giving up six double faults on his way to defeat to world no 17 Lucas Pouille.

With just one Grand Slam event left in the season, Murray has little hope of glory before the year is out. His last victory was in the spring of 2017 at the Dubai Championships, and it seems a long way back from here. That said, it is always hard for pundits and tipsters to predict the major players’ chances in big tennis tournaments, and anything can happen on the day.

A more philosophical approach

Despite his recent struggles, or perhaps because of them, Andy Murray has developed a remarkably laid-back approach to the game. In a recent interview, he described how he had come to realise that winning isn’t everything.

“I love competing,” he explained. “But it’s not just about winning major competitions. I’d still love to do that, but that’s not the most important thing. (Tennis) has been 15 or 16 years of my life and I’ve not been able to play for a year now and that’s been tough. I just want to play tennis. I love playing tennis.”

The US Open starts on 27 August, and who knows; Andy Murray might just get to do what he loves most once again.

Although with his recent form and lack of court time, maybe it’s a good thing that winning isn’t so important anymore. Perhaps just playing the game will be enough for him to end the year with a smile.

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