My memories of Andy Murray’s career
Memories of a decade spent following Murray around the tennis circuit.
Andy Murray has announced the Australian Open could be the last tournament of his career.
While the former world number one hopes to make it to Wimbledon in the summer, he acknowledged that might not be possible in an emotional press conference in Melbourne on Friday.
Here, Press Association Sport Tennis Correspondent Eleanor Crooks shares her memories of following Murray’s successful career.
I hope my last contribution to Andy Murray’s career is not to make him cry.
There were tears in the Scot’s eyes before my inquiry as to how he was feeling, which was intended to be a gentle opener, rendered Murray unable to speak and saw him briefly leave the press room.
Murray’s obvious struggles in a practice match against Novak Djokovic on Thursday and a downbeat vibe from his team suggested it would be a difficult press conference but it was still a shock when he returned and, with his voice breaking, explained that his race was very nearly run.
Murray never knew when he was beaten on court but, after more than a year and a half of painstaking – and painful – attempts at recovery, his chronic hip problems have defeated him.
It has been my immense good fortune to follow Murray through all the big moments of his career.
The heartbreak of so many grand slam near misses – the raw emotion of 2012’s Wimbledon final defeat by Roger Federer particularly stands out – followed by the glorious redemption of Olympic gold and then his US Open triumph.
The crowning moment, of course, came a year later at Wimbledon when he defeated Novak Djokovic, the agony of the final game seeing the press box’s code of neutrality sail away through the Centre Court roof.
His second Wimbledon title felt routine by comparison but it was great to see him able to enjoy it with the shackles of pressure weighing less heavily.
The ATP Finals victory over Novak Djokovic in 2016 that brought him the world number one ranking, something he appeared unlikely to achieve, was another highlight while his Davis Cup heroics in 2015 sit right up there alongside his first Wimbledon win as a favourite memory.
There were surreal moments, too – the late-night interview at Wimbledon carried out with Murray on a massage table, his modesty preserved by a towel and his voice rising and falling as he answered questions while staring at the floor.
And the press conference at the US Open that was gatecrashed by a merry Sean Connery, leaving Murray flattered if rather bemused.
Murray could be hard work in the press room, particularly in his early days, and I never looked forward to the press conferences he would give moments after a painful defeat, his eyes like a window into a tortured soul.
But seeing him mature into an articulate and thoughtful man who was not afraid to publicly stand up for his principles was another privilege, always with at least a drop of that wry humour.
He never wanted to be too close to the media and guarded his privacy fiercely but was always friendly and polite away from the court and the heartfelt tributes attest to what a popular character he is in tennis.
I hope he makes it to Wimbledon and gets the send-off he deserves, but most importantly I hope he is able to live without pain and enjoy making a new life with wife Kim and their two young daughters.
Tennis will be all the poorer for his absence.