Andy Murray is an inspiration to Roger Federer. Who say so? Federer.
The Swiss legend’s declaration came after Murray praised him following the 20 Slam champion’s physically-demanding third-round French Open win against Dominik Koepfer.
I'm not bothered by the outcome of this match at all. Just seeing Federer at 39 off the back of two knee surgeries playing to an empty stadium at 12.30am, getting fired up, is inspirational to me. Andy Murray
Both Murray and Federer are on the comeback road from long-term injury problems.
And two-time Wimbledon champion Murray said after Federer’s four-set Koepfer marathon: “I’m not bothered by the outcome of this match at all. Just seeing Federer at 39 off the back of two knee surgeries playing to an empty stadium at 12.30am, getting fired up, is inspirational to me. Do what you (heart emoji).”
And Federer replied: “Thank you Sir Andy, the feeling is mutual. You gotta love it (heart emoji). See you on the (grass emoji).”
Murray, 34, is aiming to make a Grand Slam return at London SW19 after warming up at Queen’s from 14 June.
The former world No.1 had turned down a wild card for Roland Garros to regain tournament fitness having been troubled by a groin problem in March.
Brit Murray has been on a stop-start comeback largely due to a hip problem since losing his 2017 All England quarter-final against American Sam Querrey.
Federer, 39, the winner of 20 Slam singles crowns, has undergone two knee operations, having only played on three occasions in 16 months prior to Roland Garros.
He said after the Koepfer victory: “After two knee surgeries and over a year of rehabilitation it’s important that I listen to my body and make sure I don’t push myself too quickly on my road to recovery,”
The decision of Federer, who had been lined up against Italian ninth seed Matteo Berrettini in Paris in the fourth round, has received a mixed reaction. Chris Evert backed it while Patrick McEnroe, although understanding, felt it didn’t look good, while social media keyboard warriors hinted that Federer “used” the Paris major to improve fitness.
Murray, while backing Federer, said: “In basketball, football etc when returning from injury players are given reduced minutes to build up their fitness. In tennis you don’t have that luxury of just playing a set in first match then 2 sets the next etc and building up that way. I’d argue that it’s quite risky to play multiple 4hr matches in a row in your 2nd tournaments back in 18 months so to me it makes sense to be reactive based on how your body feels, length of matches etc.”