Murray: 'I Fought Right To The End'
Comebacks are never easy. It’s been no different for former World No. 1 Andy Murray, who lost a four-setter against Fernando Verdasco at the US Open on Wednesday, in just his fifth tournament since hip surgery that he underwent in January.
But the Scot has found reason for optimism, even though he has not quite found the level that helped him to the championship at Flushing Meadows in 2012.
“I think there's for sure doubts about that because you just don't know. I mean, when I got the injury, I was ranked No. 1 in the world. Twelve months later things completely changed,” Murray said. “You just don't know exactly what's round the corner. If things keep going smoothly, physically I continue to improve, I believe that I will get back to competing for the biggest competitions because there's no reason why I couldn't. But you don't know.”
The most important thing is that Murray has shown signs of the tennis that aided his climb to the top of the ATP Rankings. His champions’ grit was on full display as Verdasco, a former Top 10 player and the 31st seed in New York, served for the match at 5-4 in the fourth set. That game — in which Murray earned five break points and staved off two match points before eventually succumbing — was a microcosm of what a comeback truly is: hammering away and making progress, without always finishing with a win.
“I think some of the tennis I played today was some of the best I've played since I had the surgery or since I came back. But there were also periods in the match, especially in the first set, where I really didn't play particularly well. I hit a lot of mistakes when I was up in that set. I feel like I should have won the first set and didn't,” Murray said. “When [my] back was against the wall, I came up with some good tennis to make it close and interesting at the end and almost got myself back into it. There were too many ups and downs for my liking.”
But the good news is that Murray’s body didn’t betray him. The players competed for three hours and 23 minutes, but the 31-year-old showed no signs that he was losing because of the match’s physicality.
“I think I did quite well in that respect… it was still extremely hot in there. Pretty challenging conditions. Certainly some of the toughest you'll play in during the year,” Murray said. “To sort of still be doing as well as I was at the end of the match, considering the lack of kind of practice and matches that I've had, was positive.”
It’s also important to keep this comeback in perspective. Murray’s loss was just his ninth match in 14 months, and his second best-of-five set match in that span.
“It's still quite early in this process for me. I did all right. I chased balls down right to the end of the match. I wasn't giving up on points. It wasn't the most comfortable I felt on a tennis court,” Murray said. “I got through it and fought right to the end.”