I can't be the only one, tennis fan or not who was saddened at the sight of Britain's talismanic tennis star limping to the end of his Wimbledon quarter final against Sam Querrey earlier this year, eventually succumbing to the American in five gruelling sets. Watching his anguish on court as he gave away the last two sets 6-1 due to a niggling hip injury was as tough a sporting watch as I’ve had to endure.
The mystery hip injury that's plagued Andy Murray since after this years French Open is something that has led to many questions, such as, have we seen the best of Andy? And the even more dramatic will we ever see him again?(cue dark piano music)
This got me thinking back to this time last year, when Murray had just sealed the year end number 1 spot by seeing off long-time rival Novak Djokovic in straight sets at the season ending world tour finals in London.
All the talk during that tournament however was about who was missing, with everyone and their dog saying thanks for the memories but that's it to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, arguably the two greatest to ever play the sport (not arguable at all really). Little did we know that both would stage two of the greatest comebacks in sporting history, starting with Federer's epic triumph in the final of the curtain raising Australian Open (against Nadal, which was a personal highlight for me seeing these two gladiators of the sport go at it once again) and finishing with Rafa ending the year world number 1. The argument from this is simple: can we write off Andy, and even Novak Djokovic from returning even better than they were before?
Let's cast our minds back to 2013 for example. With Murray coming off his most prolific year to date, winning the 2012 Olympics, the following US open, getting to the final in Australia then rounding it all off with that spine tingling maiden Wimbledon triumph July of 2013 that will no doubt linger in everyone's memory for years to come. It's often forgotten that later that year Murray had minor back surgery, that although not ruling him our for as long as this hip injury has done, was certainly a bump in the road of his career. There was even talk around this period (as there always is) that we would never see the same man again. Low and behold he proved these doubters wrong, returning not only to defend his Olympic title, being the first man to so, and to win a second Wimbledon crown, but possibly more importantly to him ending 2016 as the world number 1, a goal that looked unattainable only a few years before.
Look, obviously I’m not blind, I understand the potential seriousness and the consequences of his current injury. The fact that he was limping between points in a recent exhibition match in Glasgow with none other than the comeback' king' himself Roger Federer is still undoubtedly a worrying sign, and it's no secret that he's now 30 years old and logic dictates it will take him longer to return to anywhere near his peak level. All of that coupled with the birth of his second daughter will of course raise questions of motivation and drive to win in a sport he's been playing since his pre teen years. If this is the case and we never see marvellous Murray darting round the courts of SW19 again, then I’m sure it'll be tough to take for tennis fans everywhere, and although tough I would be able to accept the situation and marvel in his previous achievements.
However, with the glamours, fairytale, sporting miracles we've seen in 2017 from two of the games greats it would surely be unwise to write off another two great competitors and idols of the sport, from attaining major successes in the 2018 season.
I’m not saying either will come back sprinting out of the gate and claim the Australian open, Indian wells and Miami titles that Federer did in his blitzing start to 2017, but what I am saying, is don't be surprised if in the last week of January we're getting up early to watch a Murray v Djokovic semi final, as this years evidence suggests anything is possible, so watch this space....