Andy Murray has always been hard on himself. Wanting perfection and self-admonishing when he falls short of what he expects from himself. Even with a metal hip, groin trouble and a positive coronavirus test while being out of the game for most of the past four years.
The negative is I feel like I can do better tennis-wise, play better and close matches out. I need time on the match court and the practice court. I've had neither Andy Murray
The double champion was left frustrated and questioning his future after losing as a wild card in straight sets to Canadian tenth seed Denis Shapovalov in the third round on Wimbledon’s Centre Court in front of fervent support in what was his first Championships campaign since 2017.
Murray said after the loss: “There is a part of me that feels a bit like I have put in so much work the last three months and ultimately didn’t play how I would want and expect, and it’s like ‘is it worth it’?
“The amazing support here reminds you why you do all the work. The negative is I feel like I can do better tennis-wise, play better and close matches out. I need time on the match court and the practice court. I’ve had neither.
“Unless me and my team can find a way of keeping me on the court for a consistent period of time and allow me to practice the way that I need to, to compete with these guys, then the discussions about what I do next will come in.
“I’m not expecting and saying I would beat Denis. He’s a brilliant player. But I feel like I can do a lot better than I did.
“I feel like I’ve been trying a lot the last couple of years since I had the operation and never been able to get that much momentum going. To be able to compete with guys of Denis’s level my game has to be spot on.
“I feel I put a lot of work into this and to lose against him is tough. If I am going to put that much effort in I want to be performing much better.”
One newspaper described his attempts at a comeback as “gloriously pointless”.
But we need to look at the bigger picture. After all what is “pointless” about being the first player to overcome the physical problems he has had to such a degree that he is able to win twice – against Nikolos Basilashvili and Oscar Otte – in the world’s greatest tennis tournament on the sport’s most iconic court?
As Kate Battersby wrote on Wimbledon.com: “For any player of any ranking, the point is to do what should not be possible. Whether it’s making just one shot you thought was beyond you, or defeating a player too good for you on paper, or capturing 20 Grand Slams, or coming through four years of almost relentless misery to play and win at Wimbledon again… whatever the scale, the point is always the same. And by definition, when achieved it is always glorious.”
Certainly, Shapovalov appreciated what Murray has done, describing “my hero” Murray as a “inspiration” in the way he has returned despite his injury obstacles.
Murray, it seems, hasn’t given up on himself yet as he aims to defend his Olympic title for a second time at the upcoming Tokyo Games.
The 34-year-old Scot said: “I am hoping that providing I can stay on the court consistently for two, three, four months, my tennis will get back to a high level.
“I got through a week of a Slam without getting injured so that is positive. There were moments of really good tennis mixed in with some really bad moments. I played two long matches, significantly longer than anything I had played in the past six months.
“This week has been really good in some ways, but frustrating too.”