Defying All the Odds: Andy Murray Claims Victory in Antwerp
Andy Murray continued his remarkable fight back from potentially career-ending hip surgery on Sunday as he claimed his first ATP Tour level title in over two years. Alex Grant reports.
It was a hard fought competition with Wawrinka that Murray had to overcome to claim the title. (Photo: Sky Sports)
Murray fought back from a set and a break down to defeat long-time rival and friend Stan Wawrinka 3-6 6-4 6-4 in just under two hours and 30 minutes.
The Dunblane born star came into the match off the back of two straight three set matches and four matches in five days. Playing in just his seventh singles event since his return to the tour Murray showed no signs of fatigue, weathering an early Wawrinka storm to turn the final on its head.
Wawrinka, who has had his own injury troubles to contend with in recent years, seemed set to spoil the Murray party as he raced into a 6-3 3-1 lead playing the type of tennis that has helped him become a three-time grand slam champion. The Swiss couldn’t quite maintain his high level, however, and Murray showing that his competitive instincts remain undiluted was there to pounce.
As Wawrinka’s first serve stats wavered Murray was able to break and wrestle his way back into the contest and the final was soon going the distance as Murray forced a decider, converting his first set point.
The third set was a largely tense affair with neither man giving an inch, both clearly relishing being back on the match court fighting hammer and tongs with each other. In the end, however, Murray’s pressure told with victory secured as Wawrinka fired wildly long on the Scots first championship point.
A warm embrace between these two great champions followed and Murray was soon unable to hold back the emotions as he broke down in tears.
The ATP 250 event in Antwerp may be a far cry from the 32-year-old Scot’s Wimbledon or Olympic successes but after all his struggles and almost retirement back in January this title meant just as much.
This was evidently clear as an emotional Murray spoke to reporters on court following the match: “It means a lot. The past few years have been extremely difficult. Both me and Stan have had a lot of injury problems in the past couple of years. Amazing to be back playing against him in a final like that. I think it was a great match,” Murray commented.
“I didn’t expect to be in this position at all, so I’m very happy. This is one of the biggest wins that I’ve had after everything so I’m very proud.”
For Murray’s opponent it was a case of so near yet so far but despite the disappointment Wawrinka was his usual gracious self in defeat:
“I think that the tennis world, including me, were really sad in Australia when you had the press conference after your match. To see you back at this level and what you have achieved after the surgery with your team is amazing,” said the Swiss.
“So we’re all really happy, even if I’m sad to lose today, I’m really happy to see you back at that level. You’re an amazing champion and you deserve that.”
Murray is the first player to return to the singles circuit having undergone hip resurfacing surgery and whilst no one has ever doubted Murray’s resolve many doubted his ability to come back to anywhere near the level that once helped him reach world number one.
It remains to be seen whether the Scot will ever be able to challenge for grand slams again but winning a tour level title in just his seventh event back is the best sign yet that Murray is well on his way back to the top level.
The Scot will now take a break from competition with the imminent arrival of his third child.