Can it really be 10 years since Andy Murray ended the long wait for a British men’s singles champion at Wimbledon?
On the hallowed grass of the All England Lawn Tennis Club time can at once stand still and whizz by in the blink of an eye.
The pomp, the ceremony, the history, the heritage. The same grass courts, the beautifully manicured grounds and the traditional white garb all present a sense of timelessness.
On that blistering July day in 2013, every Centre Court rally was a mini-marathon as the weight of history slowly melted from Murray’s shoulders point by point.
Then came the Novak Djokovic backhand into the net, the Murray racquet cast into the air, the outpouring of joy from the home crowd and in living rooms across the country.
To do it once was miraculous enough. To repeat the feat three years later reinforced Murray’s place in the ‘Big Four’ alongside Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Djokovic.
So did his rise to world number one later in that stellar 2016, which lasted through to the summer of 2017.
The graft to get to the summit took its toll, of course, with injury striking at the zenith of his powers. That he’s still playing, metal hip and all, is the latest act in a career full of such defiance.
There is a chance, though, that this special Wimbledon anniversary will mark Murray’s last competitive visit to his tennis ‘happy place’. He doesn’t want it to be – he’s still targeting 50 tournament wins and 800 career victories at ATP Tour level.
For either of those to happen, the 36-year-old would need to be playing this time next year, barring the kind of winning streak that took him to the top of the rankings in the first place.
Unlikely, as he’d be the first to admit.
‘Murray will believe he can make second week’
So, if it is to be his last one – or one of his last few – he wants it to be good. He wants to give us a present reminder of just how good he was.
All the recent first-round defeats can dull the sense of just what a tennis genius he was in his heyday.
During all the rain last week at the Rome Masters, they showed a re-run of the 2016 final when he dismantled Djokovic in straight sets. A few weeks later, he would meet the Serb again at the French Open, taking the first set before succumbing in the second of the three Grand Slam finals he reached that year – before defending his Olympic gold and winning the ATP…
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