Three-time grand slam champion Andy Murray is ‘hitting the ball well’ as his comeback to the tour gains momentum, according to Tim Henman.
The former world No.1 has been sidelined from action since the Davis Cup finals in November due to what was initially diagnosed as bruising around the pelvic area. Although Murray has since said his slow recovery from the problem could be linked to the hip resurfacing surgery he underwent last year. It is believed that the discomfort he has been experiencing in recent time in the groin area is related to soft tissue growing around his metal hip. The medical term is called heterotopic ossification, which is defined as an abnormal growth of bone in the non-skeletal tissues.
Despite admitting a couple weeks ago that he may be forced to undergo another operation to correct the issue, for the moment it appears that Murray will not be taking that option. Instead, he is hoping for a return to the tour in the near future. All tournaments on the ATP Tour have been suspended until the end of April due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Something Henman believes could be a blessing in disguise.
“In the grand scheme of things, this just gives him a bit more time keep getting fitter, stronger and faster,” Henman told The Glasgow Times.
“I was with Andy earlier in the week in London and watched him practice and he’s really hitting the ball well and he’s building his strength up all the time.
“The fact that things have been delayed, in the context of what he’s been through, I don’t think it’s too serious..”
Since the 2017 Wimbledon Championships, Murray has only been able to play singles in 15 tournaments on the ATP Tour (including one at Challenger level). The majority of his absence was due to a troublesome hip injury, which he underwent two surgeries on within as many years.
“He’s been out for so long, although he’s obviously had his moments where he’s been back playing, but it’s really been two-and-a-half years so if he’s got to wait another six weeks or so, I don’t think it’s the end of the world for him.” Henman stated.
“It’s very difficult for everyone because there’s so much uncertainty but you have to take that cautious approach so no tournaments for six weeks. It’s very sad for those events affected, the players, the fans, the sponsors and everyone else but it’s really out of everyone’s control.”
Elaborating further, the former world No.4 believes nobody should be writing Murray off just yet. Henman never won a major title during his career, but is still regarded as one of Britain’s greatest players in the Open Era. Winning 11 ATP title from 28 finals and earning just over $11.6 million in prize money. He is also a six-time grand slam semi-finalist.
“He’s 32-years-old and he’s not getting any younger and that’s where it’ll be hard because time isn’t on his side. But it’s amazing to come back and win a tournament on the tour – to win Antwerp like he did last year was an incredible achievement and I think he can get back playing even better than that.” He commented on Murray.
“To compete over seven matches over five sets like he’ll need to do to win grand slam titles will be very, very difficult but as I’ve seen time and time again with Andy, if you say to him he can’t do something, he certainly likes to prove people wrong.”
‘Wimbledon needs Andy’
Also weighing in on the likelihood of a triumphant return, Boris Becker has told The Mirror that he believes Murray still has what it takes to challenge the best in the world. Last year he scored wins over top 20 players Matteo Berrettini and Stan Wawrinka.
“He has to be patient – which is very tough when you have missed so much tennis.” Said Becker.
“He has to build up his physical condition again but he can only do that by getting on the practise courts and playing in tournaments.
“The more tournaments he plays, the more he will play the top guys on a regular basis.”
The German said he hopes to be seeing the Brit playing at his home grand slam later this year. Which is scheduled to get underway on June 29th, but that could potentially change due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
“I think Andy needs Wimbledon – and Wimbledon needs Andy just as much.” Becker stated.
“It is always more fun when the home fans have a favourite to get behind – and as a great Wimbledon champion, Andy is a big part of the tournament.
“I would say we really missed him last year, although he did play doubles.
“We all want to see him in the singles this year because it would be good for the championships.”
So far in his career, Murray has won 46 ATP titles and spent 41 consecutive weeks as world No.1. He is the only player in the Open Era to have won back-to-back Olympic gold medals in singles.
It is unclear as to what tournament Murray may start his return.
Team World One Win Away From Victory in Laver Cup
Team World take a huge 10-2 lead over Team Europe heading into the final day
After losing the first four editions of the Laver Cup, Team World look set to win the event for a second time as the event reaches its conclusion tomorrow.
Team World Captain John McEnroe was thrilled with the day’s results but warned against complacency: “We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing. The job’s not done but we’re pretty close.”
American duo Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe both earned straight sets wins over Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz, while Felix Auger-Aliassime and Ben Shelton beat Hurkacz and Gael Monfils.
“I want to play well for the guys,” said Tiafoe after his singles victory. “I played really well tonight. Just being in a team environment is so foreign to us as tennis players, it’s such an individual sport.”
After winning his third singles match in three appearances at the Laver Cup, Fritz was also motivated to do well:
“Yesterday, all the guys played really well. I felt that and wanted to come out on court and show what I can do. That definitely motivated me. Any type of team environment, I feel like it always elevates my game. I feel like my record in team events is really strong because I have a team cheering for me. I get pumped up. I’m excited to play for them. It just adds more pressure and fire to it. I think I play better in those situations.”
The doubles was a typically dynamic and feisty affair, and after the match Shelton was full of praise for his partner:
“It’s amazing, when you play with a guy who serves and returns like Felix, is as athletic as him, and goes back for the overhead as strong as him, it’s a fun time,” said Shelton. “We call him ‘Laver Cup Felix’ because he turns into something special this week, just glad I got to share the court with him at least once.”
Auger-Aliassime returned the compliments: “The best comes out of me when I’m playing not only for myself but for team-mates. Ben carried me through the end of that match, it was tough for me to get it done.”
Casper Ruud, meanwhile, beat Tommy Paul for Europe’s only points so far.
Matches on the final day are worth three points each – meaning that Team Europe would have to win all four remaining matches to prevent Team World from winning the trophy.
T. Fritz def A. Rublev 6-2, 7-6
F. Tiafoe def H. Hurkacz 7-5, 6-3
F. Auger-Aliassime & B. Shelton def H.Hurkacz & G. Monfils 7-5, 6-4
C. Ruud def T. Paul 7-6, 6-2
ATP RANKINGS UPDATE: Novak Djokovic, No.1 once more
After the US Open the Serbian champion reclaims top spot. Alexander Zverev is back in the Top 10
By Roberto Ferri
“Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion”
Rudy Tomjanovich coined this maxim just after his Houston Rockets won the NBA championship in 1995. He was paying homage to Akeem Holajuwon. It perfectly suits the heart of Daniil Medvedev, who proved 99% of tennis fans in the world to be wrong, convinced as they were that he would lose the semifinal to former No 1 Carlos Alcaraz.
But his dream to win a second US Open, after his triumph in 2021, was shattered by another champion, whose heart and class is even greater: that’s Novak Djokovic, who affixes his seal on his return to No.1, equalling Margaret Court Smith’s record of 24 majors.
Djokovic dethroning Alcaraz is not the only change in the top 20: Sascha Zverev is back in the top 10 after almost one year and Ben Shelton, great protagonist of the Us Open, debuts in the top 20 best players in the world.
A few comments:
Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrei Rublev and Alexander Zverev gain 2 positions.
Ben Shelton devours 28 positions.
Sinner, Tiafoe, Norrie and Dimitrov lose one.
Casper Ruud and Karen Khachanov, runner up and semi-finalist respectively at the 2022 US Open, drop 4 positions.
One step forward for Fritz, de Minaur, Paul, Auger-Aliassime and Hurkacz.
ATP NITTO FINALS
From 12 to 19 November the 8 best players of the ranking based on the points earned in the ongoing solar season will be playing the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.
Will Novak Djokovic succeed in winning a second straight title? He appears to be heading in the right direction.
Thanks to his triumph at the US Open the Serbian overtakes Alcaraz also in the Race to Turin.
Jannik Sinner holds fourth spot while Andrei Rublev overtakes Stefanos Tsitsipas and is now fifth.
The eighth position is occupied by Alexander Zverev.
Last year runner up, Casper Ruud is currently 10th. This means he would feature in Turin as a reserve.
ATP NEXT GENERATION FINALS
The Next Gen Finals, dedicated to the best under 21s, (8 effectives and 2 reserves) of the season will take place this year in Gedda, Saudi Arabia.
The 2022 winner, Brandon Nakashima, will not be defending his title, since he was born in 2001.
Taking for granted that Alcaraz and, most likely Rune, will be playing the ATP Finals, we have included in the chart the 12 current top under 21s.
Besides Ben Shelton, other 11 players have achieved their career highest this week.
We tribute a double applause to the four players who are making their debut in the top 100.
The 25-year-old Croatian Borna Gojo, 22-year-old Australian Rinky Hijkata and the Swiss next gen Dominic Stricker all reap the reward for their brilliant runs at the US Open. Seyboth Wild, the Brazilian who stunned Medvedev in the first round of Roland Garros leaps to No.76 after winning the Challenger in Como last week.
Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye
COMMENT: Novak Djokovic Proves His Greatness At US Open
Love him, or hate him. But respect him.
No tennis player has ever been better than Novak Djokovic.
Even Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer have to take their hats off to Novak, and admire him.
Now that Rafa and Roger have left Djokovic on his own stage at least for now, tennis fans love Novak.
DJOKOVIC WENT ONE STEP FURTHER
Djokovic’s performance on Sunday evening in the U.S. Open final was simply amazing. Daniil Medvedev also played his heart out, but Djokovic went one step further. He was sensational.
It was a thrill-a-minute three-set match. It lasted well into the night after starting at mid-afternoon. The second set alone lasted 104 minutes.
Djokovic was the winner, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3, but New York still loves 2021 champion Medvedev.
A FOURTH AND 24TH TITLE, AND A 24 TRIBUTE
At 36, the oldest U.S. Open men’s champion ever, Djokovic obviously has a special place in his heart for the number four. It’s the number of times he has won this tournament and the 24th time he has won a Grand Slam title.
The number 24 also was displayed prominently on the white jacket. Novak, his team members and family wore for the victory celebration as a tribute to the No. 24 jersey of deceased friend Kobe Bryant.
Djokovic lost his footing at least three times in the tight second set, stumbling to the surface once, apparently due to the length of the rallies.
Djokovic could look like he was almost completely wiped out of it physically one minute, and then play like Superman the next minute.
THREE POINTS MAY HAVE BEEN DECISIVE
Both men played great tennis, especially in the thrill-a-second second set in which Medvedev gained one set point in the 12th game before Djokovic recovered to force a tiebreaker.
Medvedev appeared to be in charge after out-playing Novak to win one of his drop shots to take a 5-4 lead in the tiebreaker. The match may have been decided on the next three points, all won by Djokovic on errors by the 6-6 Russian.
The big question now is what happens next January in the Australian Open. Right now, Djokovic probably wants to play . . . and win what has been his favorite tournament as far as success. But things can change quickly for players in their mid-30s. Just ask Roger or Rafa.
James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.
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