In 2016, Andy Murray was the best player in men’s tennis.

He had three Grand Slam titles to his name, an Olympics gold medal, and was ranked year-end World No. 1. Tennis commentators were even beginning to use the term ‘Big Four’, largely elevating Murray to the same status as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. He was neck-and-neck with these tennis greats, and looked set to rival them for many years to come.

Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there for Murray—he wouldn’t make another Grand Slam final, and would lose his No.1 ranking soon after.

However, the Brit is quietly making a comeback in 2022.

Could this be his year?

Five years of injury frustration

Since 2016, commentators have quietly transitioned away from using the term ‘Big Four’, subtly returning to the ‘Big Three’.

Sadly, this has been a reflection of reality, as Murray has had a torrid time with injury since then. Here’s a look at some of what the former World No.1 has struggled with over the last five years: Elbow injury, hip injury, hip surgery, ankle injury, second hip surgery, groin injury, quadriceps injury, stomach illness.

This battle with injury saw Murray drop out of the Top 800 in the world at one stage, spending months and months at a time on the side-lines. In 2019, he announced that he was considering retirement because of the daily pain his hip was causing him, and the Australian Open even played a memorable tribute to him when he lost in the first round, indicative of his impending retirement.

Rather than retire, however, Murray elected to have a metal hip installed, a move which alleviated pain significantly.

A return to form this year

Given that he was on the brink of retirement two years ago, it’s surprising to say that Murray is building nicely in 2022.

Having elected to miss the clay court season to focus on grass instead, Murray has moved his way back into the world’s top 50 for the first time in six years. Last week, the Brit recorded his first Top Five win in as many years as well, knocking Stefanos Tsitsipas out of the Stuttgart Open. He would go on to defeat Nick Kyrios in straight sets, before losing to Matteo Berrettini in the final.

Murray is due to appear in another grass court tournament this week, having gained entry into the Cinch Championships at Queens, which he has won a record six times before.

A dark horse heading into Wimbledon

What a fairy tale it would be—Andy Murray clawing his way back from injury over the six years, playing with a metal hip, all to win Wimbledon one last time in front of a home crowd.

What are his chances?

On the one hand, he has been steadily improving.

Murray is beginning to string match wins together for the first time in a long time, and even has a chance of entering Wimbledon seeded if he performs well this week. He’s also got everything to play for—it’s a tournament he’s won twice, with the home crowd clearly driving a higher level of performance from the British player. Despite his lack of recent titles, there’s no denying that he has the mindset and experience necessary to win a Grand Slam.

On the other hand, his run to the final of Stuttgart took a toll on his body.

Murray noticeably faded in the third set, taking several medical timeouts to address an abdominal injury, reducing his serve speed and court mobility. Winning a Grand Slam is the ultimate physical test—seven matches across the best of five sets, and will reveal any physical inadequacies of a player.

This week will tell just how well Murray is building heading into Wimbledon.

If Andy Murray can back up his finals run last week with another deep run in Queens, then the former World No.1 could be considered a dark horse at Wimbledon this year, if not a genuine chance.

 


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