It has been nearly a year since we last saw Andy Murray compete, and it is fair to say that the fans, players, and everyone else misses the former World #1. This week, Murray has exited the top 100 for the first time since he entered it thirteen years ago.
The Scot’s comeback has been delayed too: Murray withdrew from the Libema Open this week. With so many uncertainties circling around the 31-year-old, it is difficult to know what to read into. Luckily, Thanasi Kokkinakis saw Murray last week. I spoke to the Australian whilst he was in Surbiton, and asked him about this particular encounter.
“I actually saw him yesterday and I didn’t recognise him. I saw this guy at Raynes Park and I saw him walking towards me and thought that kind of look like Andy, it kind of looks like an accountant as well,” Kokkinakis told me, “And then he got closer and I was like ‘oh **** it is Andy.’”
What could make a three-time Grand Slam champion so unrecognisable? “He’s lost a bit of weight I think.” the Australian explained, and it is no surprise; to have Murray’s physique you need to be able to work at it every day. It seems like the Brit has not been able to train as much as he wants and that could be so demoralising for a player who thrives off of hard work.
“He told me he’s hitting about 45 minutes a day.”
I love to look on the bright side of everything, but if you are only hitting 45 minutes a day then surely you could not compete in a best-of-five, fourteen-day event that starts in less than a month. Kokkinakis would be surprised if he can make his return at the Queen’s Club, “So if he’s ready [for Queen’s], hats off to him.”
Andy Murray would not give that information to many players on the tour. However, he and Kokkinakis have a special relationship, which the Australian opened up about, “He’s been a super good guy to me ever since I started on tour.”
The former World #1 is one of the most popular players in the locker room and you can see why, “We played doubles together when I was 18 at Indian Wells.”
The 22-year-old has gone through many injury problems of his own, at such a young age. Despite this, Kokkinakis knows he’s in a very different position to Murray, “I know he’s had some injuries, but he has been there and done that. For me I’m still trying to get up there.”
Although the tour is a competition, there is great camaraderie amongst the players and the Australian just wants to see his good friend back on the circuit, “I wish him all the best because he’s an unbelievable player and tennis is for sure better with him.”
Tennis is definitely better when we have all-time great competing on a regular basis. Andy Murray is next scheduled to play Queen’s and then Wimbledon. If he is hitting only 45 minutes a day then that seems extremely unlikely to happen. Let’s hope we get to see the former World #1 at some stage in 2018.