Andy Murray appeared all but done exactly four years ago. Back in 2019 at the Australian Open the tournament was running retirement montages after his match, and he was crying at the podium while explaining his planned retirement. At that point he was just hoping another hip surgery could eliminate his everyday pain of even tying his shoes. He hoped he could live a normal life after tennis. How far we have come since then until today.
Back in September, we asked was Andy Murray back.
43rd In The World: Is Andy Murray Back? – The Tennis Resource (theresourcenexus.com)
(There is footage from the Australian Open press conference and retirement montage linked there)
Murray had just beaten the 24th seed Francisco Cerundolo in the US Open and taken Berrettini to 4 sets in round 2. He had risen to 43rd in the world. Just as a side note, how unfair must it feel as Berrettini to have to see an all time great in the first and 2nd rounds of back to back majors like this.
We firmly believe Murray is underrated historically, and we had him ranked the 11th All Time in our recent ranking given his semifinal and all the other fundamentals. Unfortunately, his legacy was mostly cannibalized by the Big 3 era he. We estimated he could have won 8 to 10 grand slams had he been in a and a more normal era with only one of the Big 3.
10 if there was no Fed/Novak
8 if there was no Novak/Nadal
Adjusted Slams: How Many Could the Big 3 Have Had (theresourcenexus.com)
When we asked the question was he back in September, at age 35 I don’t mean back in the sense he will ever be expected to be what he once was. We meant in the sense that he is back on track where you would have expect a 35 year old Andy Murry to be back in 2018 before the injuries crippled him. I would say that player with no injuries could be top 20 at 35. To be around 45th isn’t that far off even post hip injury. Where as the Big 3 always had more greatness to lose with age decline and still remain top 5. Murray seemed to be more at the All Time Great level where he would show some.
The Epic 5 Set Tie Break Upset of Berrettini In a Tennis Classic
Was it even an upset? What we saw last night was a player that looked the part of a top 10 player again. It’s evident that all time great players like this can still put it together for a match or two even at these ages. I recall Agassi beating 8thseed Baghdatis a the US Open just before retirement. He could barely walk vs Becker in the next round. I’m not sure how deep Murray can go given his hip and best of 5 sets, but it was an amazing showing. I would expect it to take a lot out of him though.
Still a deep run isn’t out of the question if he can get off the court quickly in the next couple matches. Thanasis Kokkinakis is winnable certainly. Kokkinankis would have more crowd support as an Australian but I would still pick Murray even after a grueling 5 setter. A potential 3 round match up with Zverev sets up pretty favorable as well coming off injury himself and looking a little more shaky in 5 sets in round 1.
It’s unfortunate Berrettini got saddled with an all time great who is still playing at a high level 2 straight majors early. No one of his stature deserves that and it’s unfair as we have discussed. A player with the talent of Murray is always live to play at a great level, especially early in the tournament when he is fresh. He has that level of skill and talent in him still he can rise to as we have seen with him and others. Berrettini was coming off a week where he just beat two top 10 players in Ruud and Hurkacz. It’s not like he wasn’t playing well. He was last years Semi Finalist and we picked him in to make the Semi Finals again this year. We liked the draw but we also recognized how dangerous the first round match up with Murray was in our Australian Open prediction preview as well. That ultimately turned out to be to much on the wrong night.
Regardless of what happens Andy Murray wrote a fitting final chapter to his career already if he exist early or not from here. I would have to say given how close he appeared to be ready to retire with what seemed irreparable hip issues just a few seasons ago to this, it’s a success. He’s completed the greatest comeback from injury I can recall. When he started it appeared he would only play doubles and now he’s beating a top seed on a show court in a slam. Anything more is just extra for his legacy. A Jimmy Connors US Open type run at 38 years old if he could string it together to the Quarters or Semi’s would cement it for sure.