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The Gladiator: Andy Murray’s Inspiring Year so Far

Andy Murray in action at Wimbledon.

There’s no athlete in the world that continues to play their sport purely for the love of the game more than Andy Murray. Once it became apparent that he was no longer going to be competing at the highest level, he could’ve called it quits. Even with the metal hip, Murray didn’t. And he’s done much more than become just a ceremonial player. He competes as hard as he can with the best players in the world still in 2023. He may not win big titles anymore, but the courage and effort that Andy Murray puts forth to this day is so understated and simply remarkable.

Andy Murray in 2023

Australian Open

Murray opened his Australian Open campaign with a thrilling upset victory over #13 Matteo Berrettini. In a nearly five-hour marathon, Murray was able to outlast the Italian in a 5th set tiebreak to advance to the 2nd round.

The run would only get crazier. In the 2nd round, he fell two sets and a break down to the Australian native, Thanasi Kokkinakis. After an unforgettable break point to get the third set back on serve, Murray somehow found the energy to storm all the way back. After a near five-hour win in Round 1, Murray defeated Kokkinakis in five hours and 45 minutes in the fifth set to continue his odds defying run. The match finished at 4:05 am local time. Andy Murray had the fame, the glory, the money, and everything else you could ever want. And he still trotted out onto that tennis court with a bionic hip and fought to the death until he was declared the victor. Inspiring. He would go on to lose to Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round, but not before winning an enthralling 78-minute second set to throw the crowd into a frenzy. Truly incredible fight from the then 35-year old.

No Roland Garros; although other positive results

After the Australian Open, Murray continued to play well. He defeated Lorenzo Sonego, Alexander Zverev, Alexandre Muller, and Jiri Lehecka to reach the final of the Qatar Open. He won three of those four matches 7-5 or 7-6 in the deciding set–continued warrior-like play from the great. Eventually, the hours on court were too much, and Andy would fall short in the final to #3 seed Daniil Medvedev. For the next couple of months, Andy struggled to put together wins. He’d go play a Challenger event on clay before Roland Garros and with just about no form coming in, Murray won the title. He most notably beat Gael Monfils and Tommy Paul along the way. After this, he’d go on to skip Roland Garros to prepare for his favorite event, Wimbledon.

The Grass Court Season

Murray decided to prepare for Wimbledon by playing two grass court Challenger events and then the ATP 500 Queen’s Club Championships. He handled business at the Challengers. Between the two events, Murray would take the titles while only dropping one set. This incredible form on the grass made the thought of another run at Wimbledon seem plausible. He’d lose in the first round of Queens to Alex de Minaur, but it wasn’t a deflating loss. Murray had played lots of tennis coming in. The focus was now solely on Wimbledon.

Murray started his Wimbledon campaign with an impressive first round win over Ryan Peniston. A quick win was just what he needed after the rollercoaster ride that was Australia. In the second round, he drew a man he wasn’t so fond of, #5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas. They would trade the first two sets in thrilling tiebreaks, then Murray broke in the third set to start to take grip of the match. Murray was able to serve out the third set and grab a 2-1 lead. It seemed like his dream run was going to continue, and maybe it would’ve. But then, the 11:00pm local Wimbledon curfew hit. Play would have to be resumed the following day. And that next day, Tsitsipas came out a little bit sharper, winning the fourth set in a tiebreak and breaking early in the fifth. This would prove to be enough to get him the win. An absolute heartbreak for Andy Murray in his home country.

US Hard Court Swing

Murray returned to the tour a few weeks after Wimbledon to try to gain enough points to be seeded in time for the US Open. He’d make the Round of 16 at the Citi Open and the Round of 16 at the Canadian Open before having to withdraw due to an abdominal injury. He then pulled out from the Cincinnati Masters to make sure he was healthy for the US Open. If it wasn’t for this injury, he likely would have done enough to finally get seeded again at a Major. Murray would lose in the second round of the US Open to #19 seed Grigor Dimitrov in a shockingly one sided scoreline. It seemed the amount of tennis he played throughout the season took its toll.

The Silver Lining

While Murray never made the deep run at a Major in 2023 that he had hoped for, I still believe he had a tremendous and inspiring season to this point. He had his triumphs. Three Challenger Tour wins helped him rise to his current ranking of #41. Along with those titles, Murray had some impressive wins: Matteo Berrettini, Alexander Zverev, and Tommy Paul to name some of them. What I will remember most from Murray’s season, though, were the Grand Slam thrillers. Unforgettable five set matches against Berrettini, Kokkinakis, and Tsitsipas. The fight that this man still shows is just unmatched. All I have to say is thank you, Andy Murray. I hope to see more in 2024.

Main Photo Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports


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