There was a time when even Andy Murray himself thought his best tennis days were not only behind him, but also that he should give up the sport for good.
It was the 2019 Australian Open, a tournament where Murray had reached the final five times and had just undergone his second hip surgery in as many years. Before the start of this tournament, the then 31-year-old announced that this tournament could have been his last.
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But as Murray doubted his future nearly two and a half years ago, he left little doubt about his ability to play at a high level on Monday night at the US Open.
Due to his injuries which led to poor performances – as well as a significant lack of time last year amid the pandemic and early tournament exits – Murray, the former three-time major champion, entered the tournament. his match against current world No.3 Stefanos Tsitsipas ranked No.112 and as an underdog.
Murray lost a crushing five-set loss to Tsitsipas after winning the first and third sets; Tsitsipas took the second, fourth and fifth, but it was the comments of the first that got people talking.
Murray has proven he can hold on to top-level competition again, but it remains to be seen if that will be the dominant story of the 34-year-old defeat after accusing Tsitsipas of taking too long to go. in the bathroom, or that he had taken too much time during time-outs and between games and sets.
Murray also said he prepared for Tsitsipas’ perceived antics, “especially if things didn’t go as they should”, and that it wasn’t necessarily that Tsitsipas left the court, but rather to how long he had been doing it.
“The problem is, you can’t stop the way it’s affecting you physically. When you play a brutal game like this, by stopping for seven or eight minutes, you calm yourself down,” Murray said. “You can mentally prepare for it as much as you want, but it’s the fact that it affects you physically when you take such a long break, well, several times during the game.”
He also felt that the main breaks taken by Tsitsipas, after losing the third set and after winning the fourth, helped thwart his momentum and were key saves that ended up affecting Murray more than he did. would have imagined.
“It’s just disappointing because I think it influenced the outcome of the game,” said Murray. “I’m not saying that I necessarily win this game, but it had an influence on what happened after those breaks.”
In a match that lasted four hours and 48 minutes, the often injured Murray also questioned the validity of Tsitsipas’ need for medical attention, as Murray felt there was nothing wrong and Tsitsipas was going “good, it was moving well, I thought”.
During his 16th year as a professional, Murray conceded that maybe he shouldn’t have been as touched by what happened as he was, but argued that he mental breaks are easier to cope with after long timeouts and stops than physical breaks.
He also postulated that he might not be the only player on the tour to feel this way. Murray admitted he could be wrong in his perception, but said other players were aware Tsitsipas had done similar things in the past.
“If everyone feels like it’s totally cool and there’s nothing wrong with it, then maybe I’m the unreasonable one. But I think that’s a no- meaning. And he knows it too, “Murray said. “He knows that. The other players know that. The fact that I told my team about it before the game, we knew it was going to happen.”
No matter if Murray knew what was to come or if he was right to feel what he did, Tsitsipas maintains that he did nothing wrong.
“I don’t think I broke any rules,” Tsitsipas said. “I played as directed, how everything is going. Yeah, that’s definitely something we can discuss and make sure of. I don’t know how my opponent feels when I’m playing the game. This is not really the case. My priority. “
Murray did have issues, however, when after sweating for the first time his shoes started to slip on the court and he didn’t have a spare – the first time he said it had happened to him.
In the end, Murray’s return attempt fell through, although the sets he took against Tsitsipas were the first he took against a top-five opponent since 2017.
And while Murray recognized Tsitsipas’ talent, that’s where his praise for the 23-year-old Greek ended.
“I think he’s a brilliant player. I think he’s great for the game. But I don’t have any time for that sort of thing, and I’ve lost respect for him.”