Having won 46 career titles and an Olympic gold medal, Andy Murray has undoubtedly been one of tennis’ biggest stars over the last decade. Despite injuries taking their toll on the Glasgow-born athlete in recent years, he is back and once again seeking to compete at the highest level. So, let’s take a look at whether Murray can still perform at the top of professional tennis.
Can His Body Match the Demand of High-Level Tennis?
In January 2019, Murray made the emotional decision to retire from professional tennis due to hip injury, having finally established himself as one of the finest sportsmen that Britain has ever produced. While injuries weren’t a rarity for the Scot, who required a back operation in 2013 following his famous Wimbledon victory, they appear to now be catching up with him.
However, after giving his body time to both heal and rest, the Scotsman opted to return to the professional stage towards the later stages of 2019. Upon his comeback, it appeared that the now 32-year-old had found a new lease of life after claiming the ATP 250 European Open in October 2019 against Stan Wawrinka. The title was not only significant for Murray but also the sport of tennis. It was the first time the Brit had won a single’s title in almost three years, and, perhaps more importantly, showed signs that he was once again capable of returning to the sport's pinnacle.
That said, since the turn of the year, the Scottish-born athlete has endured fresh injury problems, including a pelvic injury which saw him pull out of the Australian Open. Murray himself cast doubts over the plausibility of a full-time return after declaring that his right thigh bone is still bruised following the metal insert he had fitted to repair his hip. The 2013 Wimbledon champion’s talent has ever been in doubt, but it remains to be seen whether he still has the physicality required to compete with healthier, younger players.
Will Tennis Be Moving Forward with an Imminent Changing of the Guard?
In January 2019, John McEnroe predicted that a changing of the guard was imminent within tennis. Although the suggestion is more aimed at the likes of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who have dominated men’s tennis over the last decade and beyond, it’s also something to consider in relation to Murray’s full-time return.
Although the above names largely remain the favourites for many of the events throughout the sport's calendar with the latest tennis odds, it’s inevitable that this won't be sustainable for many more years. With talents such as Alexander Zverev breaking through, the two-time title winner is set to be one of several up-and-coming players to disrupt the era of dominance enjoyed by Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal. When you factor in that Murray is continuing to battle against his own body, the changing of the guard is undoubtedly coming at an unfavourable time for the Scotsman. Not only will he now have to compete with himself and his injuries but also healthier young competitors.
Nadal is Right, Murray Will be a Big Loss When the Time Comes
Ultimately, few things would be better for British sport than to have Murray consistently competing for the most famous trophies in tennis once again. The 32-year-old, since returning, has shown that he is capable of claiming single’s titles, but injuries continue to hinder how regularly he can get on the court. Only time will tell what’s next for Murray, and while many who follow the sport would love to see him succeed, the timing of his comeback combined with his physical conditioning will make reaching the top a lofty ask.