Murray Has Shown A Willingness To Adapt And Evolve Ahead Of Australian Open Return

Murray commences his Australian Open campaign against the No.21 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili on Monday
14:10, 14 Jan 2022

Three years ago in Melbourne, a disconsolate Andy Murray addressed the media and struggled to convey his anguish regarding a dreich outlook.

The Scot's troublesome hip had become intolerable, and his trophy-laden career had entered the final chapter. His unwavering commitment to his craft had taken its toll on his aching body, and retirement loomed.

Through tears and sorrow, Murray hesitantly mentioned the possibility of further hip surgery. His tone was sombre, but it offered his supporters a glimmer of hope.

Murray encountered Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round at the Australian Open. He strained every sinew and hobbled and winced for the duration, but a spirited performance ended in defeat and a standing ovation.

He left the court a beaten man, yet his perspective had brightened. His mood had lifted, and he eventually opted for surgery in an attempt to prolong his time in the sport he adores.

Murray underwent successful hip resurfacing and returned to action after a prolonged spell on the sidelines - and he is now, remarkably, just days away from returning to the scene of his impromptu retirement ceremony.

His comeback has been discontinuous, impacted by niggling injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic, and momentum has proved difficult to capture. His victory in Antwerp two years ago - the 46th time he’s collected silverware - provided the standout moment of his return.

He maintained a rare period of optimum fitness in the final six months of last year, and there was an upturn in performances despite mixed results.

Stringing consecutive victories together has proved problematic for the former world No.1. Uplifting displays have tended to be followed by lacklustre and disjointed showings, and he’s not made the headway anticipated.

Murray, a top-class operator, has shown his ability to challenge the elite remains. He rocked Stefanos Tsitsipas in New York and dismissed Jannik Sinner in Stockholm, but his matches are rarely swift affairs.


Murray was never a stranger to protracted duels, but they have become more frequent recently. A killer-instinct has evaded him at critical junctures, and he is regularly embroiled in arduous tussles.

The three-time major winner is predominantly a cautious performer. He prefers to absorb pressure and respond on the counter-attack – and it is a philosophy that has served him well. A more aggressive approach in the closing stages of his career is necessary though, and he recognised the need for change.

Murray has hired Jan De Witt in a coaching capacity, replacing Jamie Delgado, to provide a different perspective and implement fresh ideas. The Scot also has a new racket in his bag for the first time in 20 years, and he is hoping to reap the benefits from a larger frame.

The racket will be more forgiving and assist his need for greater power, and the early signs are encouraging. A productive week at the Sydney International has reinforced his belief that alterations made in pre-season have been beneficial.

Murray will commence his Australian Open campaign against the No.21 seed, Nikoloz Basilashvili. He defeated the uncompromising Georgian earlier this week, and another physical battle is pending.

The five-time runner-up will be targeting a spot in the second week, although it is unclear whether his body can support his ambitions. Avoiding energy-sapping clashes in the early stages is key to his hopes, and a clinical start is required.

An encouraging Australian Open would tee the Brit up nicely for the season ahead. If he can avoid further setbacks, positive results will inevitably follow, and his ranking will gradually reflect his quality.

His short-term prospects provide optimism, which has seldom been the case in recent years. With a new coach in the stands and a new bat in his hands, he has shown a willingness to adapt and evolve - and he has little to fear as his confidence returns.

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