DOWN AND OUT?
Andy Murray deserves every plaudit that has come his way since the announcement that the end of his garlanded career is nigh – and, in the time he has left on court, there will no doubt be truckloads of eulogies trying to immortalise his towering legacy
All alluring stories of glory, scripted in the realm of sports in the past, might not have always ended on a high note – but many have woven indelible memories leaving behind an everlasting impression. With speculations of Sir Andy Murray's retirement doing the rounds, another story of glorious ending might pan out to embrace the tennis fraternity spread across the world. The former world No. 1, ever since suffering a serious hip injury in 2017, has shown immense moxie in overpowering his ailment – but, nothing has been enough to help him fully click and regain top form.
Once a high-flier, the injury has continued to haunt the Briton even in 2019, compelling him to express his desire of retiring from professional tennis this year. He though, simultaneously remains hopeful of carrying on just long enough to end his career at Wimbledon – Murray had said ahead of the ongoing Australian Open, which he recently exited in the first round following a defeat to Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut. Earlier, in 2017, the injury had sidelined him not only out of Canadian Open and Cincinnati Masters but also the US Open – marking his absence for the first time at a Grand Slam tournament since the 2013 French Open. As a result, Rafael Nadal was awarded the No. 1 spot in the rankings. Come 2018, he underwent a hip surgery and extensive rehabilitation to get back into the top rung of men's tennis, which only made him more of a people's favourite than before. Murray has been credited for his perfection ever since he made his debut after breaking into the ATP circuit. Not only this, his innate desire to move ahead paved the way for a successful future. He carved out a commendable career for himself, as his name went down the history books as he became the first British player since 1977 to bag a Grand Slam singles competition after winning the 2012 US Open; he also became the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win multiple Wimbledon singles tournaments.
Having tasted Grand Slam victories, his praiseworthy career driven by his grit reeled in massive milestones as time passed. Thrilling encounters with arch-rivals brought out the best in him; his legacy thickened. By and by, he was clubbed alongside other top players such as Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer – making up for the 'Fab Four' of his generation. He went on to showcase hair-raising displays in several enduring matches against them that eventually landed him worldwide recognition. But the Brit didn't just stop there. He pulled off what none of the other three big shots could i.e., winning two Olympics Singles gold medals. In addition to this, he has also been acknowledged for leading the team in Great Britain's Davis Cup win in 2015, where he took part in most clashes – both singles and doubles – administering a huge role in ensuring the ultimate triumph of his team.
Legitimately loved and hailed by Britain's populace, Murray has brought both pride and joy to his homeland. His success has kept the British flag's respect and dignity soaring at all noted tournaments, particularly at the Wimbledon. However, what was seemingly his last Grand Slam match, and which he played with all his might, summarised his entire career as it reflected his usual sturdiness, firm belief to go over the heel and, just when he seemed down and out there, he was roaring and fighting back with the same never-say-die attitude that had accounted for staggering performances across his professional tennis playing years, though often entwined with bad luck.
While it may be hard for him to come to terms with the way his career has hit the threshold of a possible 'The End', at least one thing he shouldn't regret is the effort that he had infused into the match against Roberto Bautista Agut. Looking almost physically drained out by the end of second set and all set for a soul-sagging humbling at the hands of the world No. 22, it seemed as if Andy had called on the Murray of the past to invoke within him the will and desire to battle the Spaniard's rattling shots by unleashing his ferocious replies. Alongside, he had also streamed in a sense of hope among onlookers, as they relished the glimpses of their old Andy Murray – the one they once had grown accustomed to. Fast forward to the end, Murray had put on yet another show with the crowd breaking into raptures, standing on their feet and applauding the Brit for his grit and stellar display although he was more on the receiving end. But just like his entire career, wherein he has fought tooth and nail to topple and remain competitive against the likes of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal by going the extra mile only to miss out agonizingly on the win, this time too the end came with a few hiccups.
Though he might have tumbled again at the last step to render his future in doldrums, one thing is for certain: the three-time slam champion has certainly found a place in people's hearts.