By Freddie Bennett | Sport Editor
After a disappointing display in the Rotterdam Open, the future of Andy Murray’s tennis career looks close to its inevitable end as even the man himself claims ‘’I’m playing for my career every time I step on court’’.
The former Scottish number one got off to a tetchy start in this most recent tournament in Rotterdam. On Monday, March 1 he faced off against Dutchman Robin Haase, this being his first tour-level match since August and came out on top after losing the first set 6-2. Ranked 123rd in the world, Murray could have benefited from this boost of confidence. Perhaps the former Wimbledon champion just needed a platform to reboot his career from.
However this did not last long, two days later Murray succumbed to the throwback flowing locks of the Russian Andrey Rublev in the second round. The fourth seed Rublev secured his win in just over an hour and a half, comfortably knocking Murray out of the competition. A severe blow to the Murray comeback train.
The 33-year old Murray has not been without his woes in recent times, with the two-time Wimbledon champion having to compete with a metal hip following a distressing injury. It must be far from an easy feat to compete in top tier tennis with a metal hip, but due to this setback his best days of tennis look to be behind him.
One cannot doubt that Murray has been and always will be a British sporting legend within tennis, having broken countless records and achieved feats that no other British athlete has accomplished. It is without doubt he has legendary domestic status on lock. Unfortunately, one thing that every professional sportsman has to deal with is knowing when to end their career.
In his opening set against Rublev he was unable to convert two break points, before Rublev looked to run away with the second. In fact, the young Russian won five successive games which successfully booked his place in a quarter -final either against David Goffin or Jeremy Chardy.
These do not look to be the isolated mistakes of an athlete out of form but look as if they could be the final moments of an illustrious tennis career. At these key stages of the match, Murray was not able to convert which lost him the match.
Any professional sports environment comes with an incredible amount of pressure, and especially those individual sports such as tennis. Yet, at the moment the 33-year-old does not look to be coping with this pressure in ways he might have done some years ago, succumbing to several moments of frustration in his most recent tie, that undoubtedly have been part of his game before, but now resonate in a whole different manner.
In all sports there are narratives whereby the younger athletes or teams will face up against the veterans. Sometimes we observe a passing of the torch or others we witness the more experienced counterpart using their mastery to put them back in their place, similar to Tom Brady’s handling of Patrick Mahommes in this year’s SuperBowl. But this particular affair looked like the previous if anything. In tennis this is especially relevant as the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal continue to find success at the ages of 39 and 34 respectively. Andy Murray shares the same birth month and year with world number one Novak Djokovic too.
If there is a route back to the top tiers of tennis for Andy Murray, one hopes it would come soon. He plans to compete in Dubai and Miami throughout this month so hopefully he can find his feet and get back to his winning ways in the upcoming tournaments.