Andy Murray: The brilliant yet turbulent career of a British legend
Despite his troubled time on tour in recent years, Andy Murray remains arguably Britain’s greatest sportsperson. His willingness to never give up has inspired many across the globe, but it has been anything but plain sailing.
That is, of course, part of his legend. Greatness is, as they say, borne of adversity. If you were to ask him though, I’m sure he would have asked for a smoother ride.
Join us as we at Tennishead take a deep dive into the brilliant yet turbulent career of Sir Andy Murray.
Andy Murray was born in Dunblane, Scotland in 1987 to mother Judy, who dabbled with professional tennis herself. It was thus inevitable that Andy was to enjoy an admirable tennis career.
The influence of older brother Jamie also instilled a certain competitiveness in him from an early age that never ceased, serving as one of the contributing factors to such an illustrious legacy.
Having turned down the opportunity to play football with Rangers FC, Murray embarked on his journey to become a tennis great. First stop: Barcelona.
Murray trained at the Sanchez-Casal Academy, harnessing key clay court skills that were fundamental in his rise to success. The clay taught him patience, consistency, tactics and physicality, among many other invaluable lessons.
Following much success on the Futures circuit and as a junior player, including his triumph at the US Open in 2004, the Scot turned his focus to the professional tour in 2005.
Murray’s injury woes have been present since his early days on tour and are even claimed to have hindered him in his third round losses at Queen’s and Wimbledon.
First ATP success
It was not long before Murray claimed his first ATP title in San Jose in 2006, a season which saw him experience real success and rise to British no.1.
This season marked a significant point in the trajectory of Murray’s young career, who at just 19 had already made it into the top 20.
In 2007, despite missing most of the summer due to injury, he was able to defend his title in San Jose and back it up with more success in St. Petersburg.
With a bit of experience under his belt, Andy Murray became a serious competitor at the top of the men’s game.
Over the course of the 2008 season, he went from strength to strength and his success was rewarded with five more titles to add to his collection, two of which came at Masters level.
Regardless of such a successful year, in which he finished as the world no.4, Murray experienced his first major final heartbreak as he fell to Roger Federer in the US Open.
The following year, his success at majors stuttered a little but he was coming ever closer to an infamous Wimbledon crown, this time losing in the semi final. However, his achievements on the ATP tour did not halt, picking up six more titles.
As impressive as these were, Murray was hungry for more. He was eager to go one step further and carve his name into the list of Grand Slam greats.
However, more heartbreak was just around the corner for the Scot. Murray reached back-to-back Australian Open finals in 2010 and ‘11, but was denied in straight-sets on both occasions.
The 2011 season was by far the toughest one to come to terms with for Murray in his career up until then. After his torturous third straight finals loss in Melbourne, he went on to reach the semi finals of each of the remaining three Slams, but fell short in all three of them, including a defeat to Nadal in SW19 to keep Britain longing for a male champion.
It looked as if the 2012 season was to follow a similar pattern, especially after his excruciating four-set loss in the Wimbledon final to Federer, a match in which he led a set to the good. An emotional post match interview summed up the agony for Murray.
However, the 2012 Olympic Games in London marked a real turning point for the Brit, and it just had to happen on home soil.
After all the hurt he had endured on Centre Court in previous years, Murray was finally victorious on the hallowed turf, turning the tables on Federer to win his first gold medal. This sparked a belief within Murray which he would harness going into the end of that season and the rest of his career.
At the US Open, just a month later, he finally ended his string of defeats in major finals by beating Djokovic in a dramatic five-set thriller. In doing so, he also ended Britain’s 76-year drought of a male Grand Slam winner.
There was a different feel around West London during the summer of 2013. Andy Murray had not lost a match on grass since his loss in the previous year’s final, and with belief on his side, was determined to go one better.
Nadal and Federer’s shock exits in the early stages of the tournament made Murray’s path to success slightly clearer. Once the Brit had survived an epic comeback from 2-0 against Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, it looked as if things were all falling into place.
It was only fitting that Djokovic and Murray met in the final, the world’s two best players of the time, in the most prestigious tournament of the calendar year. The Serb was leading their head-to-head 11-7 but Murray had overcome him on the surface 12 months prior at the Olympics.
The final had all the elements of a sporting spectacle of greatness, but it was Murray who triumphed, ending his and Britain’s wait for a male winner at the All England Club.
After his monumental victory in SW19, Murray’s 2013 season came to an early end as he felt surgery was the best solution to his ongoing lower back problems, the same which had kept him out of the French Open earlier in the year.
Murray wasn’t the same following his return to action at the start of the 2014 season. He was still able to win three titles and reach the quarters of all the Slams, but this wasn’t the Murray that we were used to seeing. A mix of injury issues and post-Wimbledon blues are thought to be the factors.
2015 Davis Cup
Murray came back from surgery in 2015 with a bang, making his fourth Australian Open final as well as the semi finals in the following two Slams.
At the end of the year, by winning 11 of the team’s 12 points, it’s safe to say that Murray almost single-handedly won Great Britain the Davis Cup in 2015. He joined John McEnroe and Mats Wilander as the only players to have won all of their singles rubbers in a single season in the current format, steering Britain to their first Davis Cup triumph in the Open Era.
Despite his injury troubles from the previous year, Murray ended the year as world no.2 for the first time and was looking back to his best.
Rise to world no.1
All of the hard work that Murray had put in over his career seemed to pay off in 2016. It was his best tennis season by a stretch, a season that saw him consistently perform at the top of the sport for its entirety.
Not only did Murray add a second Wimbledon crown to his collection, he even defended his gold medal at the Rio Olympics. Murray ended his season with 24 consecutive match wins which included the ATP Finals title, a milestone achievement as he ended the year as the world’s best player. In addition to winning nine titles, he also became the first man outside the ‘Big 3’ to occupy the top spot of men’s tennis in 12 years.
Following on from what was a heroic 2016 season, Andy Murray struggled with form throughout the 2017 season and his injury concerns were growing stronger towards the latter stages of the year. He suffered a hip injury which proved to be one of the most formidable challenges of his career, outside the ‘Big 3’ of course.
The injury was beginning to take its toll on Murray who went through with surgery at the start of 2018 in a bid to recover and get back to action. Things didn’t go too smoothly though as Murray was unable to return to the level he was used to competing at.
The pain was relentless for Murray who wasn’t sure of continuing for much longer. This led to a press conference prior to the 2019 Australian Open in which an emotional Murray announced the possibility of retirement following the tournament.
However, Murray doesn’t know how to give up, it’s not in his vocabulary. His never-ending motivation, as well as advice from Bob Bryan, is what led him to a second hip surgery which helped him return to tennis in June of that year.
Clearly unable to move as well as he once could, Murray returned to play on the doubles circuit where he miraculously won the Queen’s title with partner Feli Lopez, rejuvenating the hope that his competitive spirit was very much still alive.
2019: Antwerp title
Murray’s devotion to the sport is what has kept the fire inside him alive. After a slow resurgence, he finally returned to the singles court at the back end of 2019 and instilled inspiration into people from across the world by coming back from two hip surgeries to win his first ATP title in two years.
During a pandemic-riddled 2020 and an inconsistent 2021 season, Murray was still adjusting to life with a metal hip. Although he was able to record some success, including his first top 10 win in three years and a run to the third round of Wimbledon.
Return to top 50
Albeit nowhere near the level we know he was once capable of, Andy Murray returned to a certain level of success during the 2022 season. Over the course of the year, he reached two tour finals and returned to the top of the rankings for the first time since 2018.
As well as taking part in the longest match in his career after a 5 hour and 45 minute marathon battle against Thanasi Kokkinakis, Murray has claimed three titles at Challenger level.
He has struggled to find much success on the ATP Tour, but has made it into Leon Smith’s GB Davis Cup team in what could be his ultimate appearance in the tournament. Team GB will face Djokovic’s Serbia in the quarter finals later this month.
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