Surgery To Success: Murray’s Memorable 2019 Season
Brit claimed trophies in singles and doubles in 2019
After making a series of doubles appearances to prepare for his singles comeback, the Brit arrived in the Belgian port city at No. 243 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Fresh from a positive run of results during the Asian swing, Murray dropped just one set to reach his first singles semi-final of the year at the ATP 250.
From there, the Dunblane native showcased his signature grit. Murray rallied from a set down in back-to-back matches against Ugo Humbert and Stan Wawrinka to capture his 46th tour-level singles crown. The victory completed a rollercoaster year for Murray, who nine months earlier had suggested the 2019 Australian Open might be the final tournament of his career in an emotional press conference.
"It means a lot. The past few years have been extremely difficult. Both me and Stan have had a lot of injury problems in the past couple of years. Amazing to be back playing against him in a final like that. I think it was a great match," said Murray. "I didn't expect to be in this position at all, so I'm very happy."
Murray’s road to Antwerp success began in doubles at his most successful singles event: the Fever-Tree Championships in London. Competing in front of a partisan home crowd, the five-time singles champion at The Queen’s Club joined forces with Feliciano Lopez to gain match practice and a greater understanding of how his hip would react to the pressures of competing on the ATP Tour. The Brit immediately found success alongside the Spaniard, beating top seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in his comeback match.
"I expected to enjoy the match because I told myself I was going to regardless of what happened," said Murray. "To feel as well as I did there — not perfect in terms of everything like my movement, but pain-free...I enjoyed it. I feel like I'm going to continue to progress."
Throughout the week, Murray and Lopez continued to produce their best tennis to advance through the draw. The British-Spanish duo beat defending champions Henri Kontinen and John Peers in the semi-finals, before a victory against Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury in the final.
“I felt relaxed at the beginning of the week, but felt more nervous as it went on. I think my competitive instincts started kicking in,” said Murray.
After a series of doubles appearances, Murray returned to the singles court during the North American hard-court season. The 32-year-old’s competitive instincts were clear to see, but he struggled to find his best level with losses in his opening matches in Cincinnati and Winston-Salem. Ahead of the upcoming Asian swing, Murray made the decision to compete at the Rafa Nadal Open By Sotheby’s, an ATP Challenger Tour event, to work on his game and gain confidence.
Following two victories in Mallorca, Murray began to rediscover his form during a three-week run in China. The three-time Grand Slam champion claimed four wins from seven matches, including a straight-sets victory against US Open semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini in Beijing.
The experience Murray gained in China — where his only losses came against Dominic Thiem, Fabio Fognini and Alex de Minaur — prepared him for his title run in Antwerp. At the ATP 250, the Brit’s perseverance was finally rewarded. Two-and-a-half years after lifting the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships trophy as World No. 1, Murray was back in the winners’ circle.