Tears began to flow down Andy Murray's face as he walked off the court earlier this year at the Australian Open. The emotion was less about his first-round loss to Roberto Bautista Agut, and more about the fact that he might never step on a tennis court again as a professional.
Murray would have to undergo hip resurfacing surgery, a daunting procedure for any athlete with ambitions of returning to competition. The three-time Grand Slam champion was prepared to say goodbye to the sport he loved, saying in Melbourne that Wimbledon may be his final tournament—if not the Australian Open. Shortly after, Murray decided to go through with the surgery.
The Scot was relieved and felt optimistic after the surgery was deemed successful. Murray could have easily accepted that he would never play again at his peak level, but the 32-year-old's relentless attitude wouldn't allow him not to challenge and push his limits.
About five months after surgery, Murray was on the grass courts at Queen's Club, eager to start his comeback. Murray would hold off on singles and instead take the doubles court with partner Feliciano Lopez. Together the two would defeat Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah—who would go on to win Wimbledon and the US Open—in the tournament's first round. The pair fought their way through three more matches to claim the ATP 500-level event. It was an emotional feat for Murray, and one that filled him with inspiration. He would go on to compete in Wimbledon—and beyond.
Last month, Murray decided to go all in and test the waters on the singles court in Cincinnati. He took a straight-sets defeat in the first round to Richard Gasquet, a player Murray had defeated in their last six matches.
Murray went on to fall in the first round of Winston-Salem, and opted to complete in Challengers rather than the best-of-five set rigors of the US Open. At the Rafa Nadal challenger in Mallorca, Murray earned his first two match wins of the season. Fourteen years ago, Murray began a long journey that would see him reach the sport's pinncle at Challenger events. His singles results so far show that he has another long journey ahead.
Next for Murray is the Shanghai Masters, which he received a wild card into, followed by events in Zhuhai and Beijing. The former No. 1 defeated Roger Federer in the 2010 Shanghai final to become the event's youngest champion, and went on to lift the trophy again in 2011 and 2016.
Looking ahead to 2020, Murray confirmed he will represent Great Britain in the inaugural ATP Cup. The lucrative event commences on January 3 in Australia, just ahead of the first major of the year. and will feature 24 countries. With its close proximity to the Australian Open, there may be concern over Murray will compete in Melbourne, though he'll undoubtedly be aiming to.
Andy Murray has agreed to use his protected ranking to enter the ATP Cup, securing Great Britain's place in the new 24-team event to be held in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney before the Australian Open. #ATPCup— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) September 13, 2019
So what does Murray's future have in store? The Grand Slam winner seems to be pain-free and faces no limitations other than those he imposes on himself. Will he be able to return to the level he once owned? Will he push himself too hard? There are many questions, and the Asian swing may begin to reveal some of their answers.