[Editor’s note: This story was originally posted before Andy Murray’s announcement Friday that he plans to retire and is targeting this year’s Wimbledon as the final tournament of his career.]
Andy Murray held back his tears. As his voice faltered, this public manifestation of his emotions was not on the pulpit after a Grand Slam final, but during a field interview just after the first round of this year's Brisbane Open .
If you want to know how much this man has been striving in recent years to redress his hip injury and how he has endured mental strains, his reaction on the court after his victory over James Duckworth on New Year Day has all said.
"It's been a tough 18 months, with a lot of ups and downs," Murray said during the interview. "It was difficult to get back on the court and to resume the competition.I'm glad to be back here.I want to enjoy as much as I can and play tennis as much as I can not know how much of it's going to last. "
It was only his seventh win since his quarter-final defeat at Wimbledon in 2017. The past year had had a negative impact. As frustration increased and the time spent away from the court increased, he recognized his own sporting mortality.
Murray's last act in 2018 was to draw a line through the most frustrating years via his Instagram page. Beside a photo where he sipped a bottle of champagne with a wide range of cool drinks lined up in front of him, he wrote: "Celebrate the end of 2018. What a year!
It was Murray, 31, at his best.
And on Friday, just days before the start of the Australian Open 2019, Murray drew another line – a plan to retire this year because "I can not go on like this … I have to have a end point because I was playing without knowing when the pain would stop. "
Last year, he underwent a hip operation in January, dropped out of the French Open, retired from Wimbledon, and then left the US Open. in the second round. He has only played six tournaments. Entering this season, there were doubts about his ability to regain the form and fitness that led him to three Grand Slam titles.
But although Murray had a forgotten year, there was some inspiration. Novak Djokovic, No. 1 of the men in the title, made his debut last season in the dark while he was trying to recover from an elbow injury while telling a few stories of Unflattering public life persisted. Finally, Djokovic won two consecutive titles at Slam, Wimbledon and the US Open, and climbed back to the top of the tennis tree. He had been written off in some corners but had confidence in his abilities, which ended up being revealed.
It's very early in the 2019 season, but here's what we think we know: do not expect a Big Four dominance so soon, we have a new WTA candidate and, yes, the wounds are going to be a problem for Down Under.
Yes, we like to see tennis finally do something about its endless games, but a little regularity in the Slams would be nice.
The Australian Open officials and tennis fans around the world breathe a little better after Rafael Nadal has finally finished a seemingly unharmed match.
Djokovic said that one of the challenges of coming back from a stubborn injury is to fight his own doubts.
"I understand one of the biggest struggles [Murray] Djokovic told the media at the ATP World Finals. "At the same time, you feel some procedure or procedure that has been determined for you in your recovery is not the most appropriate, your intuition tells you something else.Then you change direction and it loses a lot of time .
"You have to make up for that time and then you're emotionally disturbed because you're wasting time, you're not playing on the tour, you're 31 years old and all those thoughts are going through your mind."
But then there are memories of glories of the past that can afflict a man accustomed to winning, as Roger Federer discovered.
"The problem is that he was the world's No. 1, [Murray] He won everything, "said Federer in London," It's not enough to play in the last 16 games or the last three quarters, and I think he'll probably want to feel that he can play in the world. " top 10, then in the top five, you know what it is, it'll be interesting to see how he's going to come back, but I'm convinced that if he feels 100%, it will not be a problem for him to play at the top. "
While Federer, Djokovic and Rafael Nadal reduced the Big Four to three in the absence of Murray, the double winner of the Olympic gold medal continued to watch with relentless competition. "It kills me that I can not compete with them," Murray said in Brisbane.
The Open of Australia offers him a chance, but he will have to find the balance tightrope of frustration and pain management at a tournament where he is fifth.
Murray oscillates between emotions, leaving everything on the court, locked in this bubble of self-criticism but brimming with self-confidence. There are no gray areas in his character on the ground.
Despite his inactivity, Murray remained in the public eye with his posts on Instagram. He acknowledged his frustration while maintaining the obligation to keep his loyal followers informed of the latest news, which slowly nurtures the hope that they will see him one day win another slam.
In the midst of the latest fitness information, ice baths, a snowman at tennis, a meeting with Wayne Rooney and some sneaky messages about the (wrong) perception that he's "boring, miserable" and that He has no personality, there was a picture of him as a child.
It was a year ago. As he wrote: "I chose this picture because the little child who is in me just wanted to play tennis and compete, I miss her so much and I would give anything to be back." I did not realize it until the last few months how much I love this game Every time I get up from sleep or nap, I hope it 's better and that it's pretty demoralizing when you get on the ground, you do not have to be up to compete at this level. "
Here is the reluctant hero, the man who is now missing his hobby and his profession, in the hope that he will come back to the standard that he was before.
He posted on Instagram a photo of him next to the Australian Open Trophy, stating: "The closest I'll ever have from the Aussie Open Trophy [laugh/cry emoji] # 5timeloser. "
He then sent a troll who accused him of being motivated only by money. An interview from the Brisbane interview was enough to dispel such an absurd suggestion, but even if it was in the shadows, the slightest glimpse of the spotlight brings new intrigue and hype.
One day, Murray's 2018 campaign will be seen as a defining year – a year in which his stay out of the sport will give him a new lease on life, a year in which Old Father Time began his ruthless domination of the career of one time. in a British sports century.
Murray's return to tennis actually begins in a few days at the Australian Open, where he will use his protected standings to enter the field. His hip is still a problem. His Friday press conference tells the world that he has his limits.
Whatever his setbacks, Murray remains the rarest of sports stars. He made it unlikely by offering a British tennis to a champion, while so many hopes and dreams proved futile.
It seems that finding his movement in the sport that he likes is, by comparison, a small step to take.