Andy Murray undoubtedly had a phenomenal 2016. The Scottish tennis player ended the season with an incredible five consecutive tournament wins, becoming the top men’s singles player in the world. Before that, he also won the men’s singles title at Wimbledon, reprising his previous victory in 2013. The last British player to match Murray’s achievements was the legendary Fred Perry back in the 1930s, and it’s no wonder that the beginning of 2017 saw Murray knighted in the New Year’s Honours list.
Britain’s great sporting hero has had a trying year on the courts so far. Despite playing a good game at the Qatar Open, he lost to Novak Djokovic and then lost the Australian Open to Germany’s Mischa Zverev. Murray won his first Dubai tennis championship in February but went on to lose the Indian Wells Masters Tournament to World #129 Vasek Pospisil. An elbow injury saw him drop out of the Miami Open, and since then Murray has lost the Monte Carlo Open, the Barcelona Open, the Madrid Open and the Rome Open, where he was the defending champion but lost to Fabio Fognini in the second round. All eyes are now on how well Murray can do in the French Open, and as this article on 888sport explains, Murray has always struggled on clay courts.
In his element
Whatever happens at Roland Garros, Murray will be in his element at Wimbledon and will be fiercely determined to defend his title there. His main competition will be Roger Federer, who has had an incredible comeback this year following an injured knee that saw the older player sit out the latter end of last season. In 2017, Federer has been selective about what tournaments he enters and is skipping the French Open, but so far has won the Australian Open, the Indian Wells Masters and the Miami Open.
Novak Djokovic has had a mixed year but could still prove Murray’s nemesis. The Scotsman knocked Djokovic off the top spot last year, so there is certainly some personal rivalry between them. The other player to watch is Rafael Nadal, who won at Monte Carlo and Barcelona and has played an impressive season throughout; however, the current king of clay may not be so hot on Wimbledon’s hallowed turf.
In plain terms, Murray has had his worst season start since 2008. He’s just turned thirty, the age when most professional tennis players start to decline, and there are plenty of aspiring young players coming up who see him as a target to test their abilities. The level of brilliance Murray displayed at the end of 2016 was unsustainable by anyone: just the pace of travel between international tournaments was bound to take its toll, and indeed Murray came down with a nasty bout of shingles.
With his elbow injury still affecting his serve, Murray is right to be concerned about his performance; however, the world number one could still beat the odds to a record-breaking second consecutive win at Wimbledon, so don’t write Murray off.