Last Sunday night Andy Murray returned to Roland Garros, it was a sentence I didn’t think we’d use. After his hip resurfacing there were doubts over how much of Andy we would see on the tour.
The former number one went onto win the doubles at Queens Club with Feliciano Lopez, play with Serena Williams at Wimbledon and went on quite the impressive run in Asia and finished his 2019 season with a title in Antwerp.
During this period the Brit defeated Berrettini, Wawrinka and took Fognini to tight three setter in Shanghai. This year he saw off Zverev, Tiafoe and came from two sets and a break down against Nishioka to win in New York.
Not long after his defeat to Wawrinka in Paris some words from Mats Wilander did the rounds and to say it was disrespectful is being polite. Mats said on Eurosport:
“I worry about Andy Murray. I would love to hear him say why he is out there, giving us a false sense of hope that he going to come back one day. I keep getting a little bit disappointed, is it his right to be out there doing that? Why? I did it and I shouldn’t have, it was the biggest mistake I did in my career. I think Andy Murray needs to stop thinking of himself and start thinking about who he was. Does he have a right to be out there taking wildcards from the young players?“
These comments are nothing short of disgusting from Mats and I would’ve hoped for better.
Former coach of Andy Murray, Dani Vallverdu who is in Wawrinka’s camp these days branded the comments from Mats as “PATHETIC” and he isn’t wrong.
A false sense of hope, taking wildcards from young players and stop thinking of himself. Good grief, I’ve never heard more nonsense.
This is a process, the fact that Andy is out there and competing at a top 100 level right now with the accolades he has picked up since returning to tennis is a testament to his hard work, determination and a lesson to younger players who respect him worldwide.
Did I think Andy would beat Stan? No. Do I think there is work to do? Yes.
Andy said himself he will go back and look back at the performance and make sure it doesn’t happen again. I said at the time this match is an indicator. We have seen Andy play well on a hard court and he will know what he needs to do to get to that next level.
Let’s not forget for a moment it was Andy’s first match on clay for 1207 days, around 38 months without playing on the surface so I think a bit more context is needed before making comments like Mats did.
This sport is built on many foundations and sending a message to a player saying stop taking opportunities from young players when they continue to achieve great accolades and achievements is not one of those foundations. It isn’t just a sport but a life lesson in never giving up and working hard.
Andy Murray has done this and will continue to do so, as has Juan Martin Del Potro and Kevin Anderson amongst many others over the years who have come back after tough times.
To use the words Mats said to a former Grand Slam champion who has successfully returned to singles action after hip resurfacing that no singles player has done before after a bad performance on a surface he hasn’t played on for over three years is baffling. Let’s not forget a few weeks ago Murray won big matches in Cincinnati and New York and won two titles after returning last year.
False hope? Not for me Mats, just an appreciation to watch this champion play again!