Andy Murray says he CAN still compete at top but doesn't want to ahead of final Wimbledon run with Emma Raducanu

-Credit: (Image: PA)
-Credit: (Image: PA)

Andy Murray is looking forward to a fun run in the mixed doubles with Emma Raducanu after admitting his emotional turmoil in the build-up to his final Wimbledon.

The three-time Grand Slam champion fought back tears during the heart-felt tributes to his career in a Centre Court ceremony after his men’s doubles defeat alongside big brother Jamie on Wednesday. But the 37-year-old appeared almost relieved in his post-match press conference at the end of a draining last two weeks. Since limping out of Queen’s Club, Murray has undergone surgery to remove a spinal cyst and returned to the practice court in an impossible race against time to get fit for a final singles appearance in SW19.

Not since David Beckham’s broken metatarsal before the 2002 World Cup has there been such a high-profile race against time to be fit for a big tournament. And Murray has lived out his personal psycho-drama with public daily updates.

But the Scot was back on the practice schedule at the All England Club on Friday to prepare for his mixed doubles opener alongside Raducanu, which could take place on Sunday. Murray was in tears after watching a montage of the most memorable moments of his career, with tributes from Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Venus Williams, before talking through his memories with Sue Barker.

Djokovicwas among the present and former players gathered on Centre Court for the occasion, while Murray’s two eldest daughters were courtside along with his wife, mum, dad and team.

Reflecting on the occasion, Murray said: “It was really nice. When the video was playing, my head was spinning a lot. I know I’m about to have to speak. It’s difficult in those moments because there’s a lot of people you want to thank and address. It was pretty emotional as well. Watching the video was nice but hard as well because it’s coming to the end of something you’ve absolutely loved doing for such a long time.

“But it was really nice that a lot of the players stayed. I have very close, good relationships with the British guys that were there but there’s also a number of players there on that court that I have enormous respect for, some of the greatest players in the history of the game. It feels like an ending to me. Whether I deserve it or not, I don’t know. But they did a really, really good job.”

Murray had considered playing singles just over a week after back surgery before deciding on Tuesday morning that it would not be a good idea. The extent to which he was physically hampered was apparent from the start of Thursday’s match, which the Murrays lost 7-6 (6) 6-4 to Australian duo Rinky Hijikata and John Peers.

Seven years since his hip first began to be a serious problem, the three-time Grand Slam and double Olympic champion has reluctantly accepted that his body can no longer cope with the rigours of professional tennis. “I’m ready to finish playing,” he said. “I don’t want that to be the case. I would love to play forever. But, even though it was a doubles match, where physically it’s obviously not as demanding, it’s still really hard for me.

“I’m ready to finish playing because I can’t play to the level that I would want to any more. That’s something that I guess is a bit out of my control. There’s nothing about the sport that I hate. I like the travelling. I love the competition, practising, trying to get better, all those things. I know that it’s time now. I’m ready for that.”

Djokovic has not been alone in floating the idea that Murray could yet change his mind and be back at Wimbledon next year, but the former world No.1 insists this is it. He is entered into singles as well as doubles at the Olympics in Paris later this month, which is set to be the final tournament of his career, although whether he plays singles depends on how he continues to recover from the surgery.

Murray added: “There’s no question that, even with the physical issues around the hip, I was still able to compete at the highest level. Not as consistently as I would have liked, certainly not having the results I would have wanted.

“I could still win matches here on the grass once I’m recovered from the back injury. But I don’t want to do that now. I know I could do it, but I have no plans to play singles again. I knew definitively that that was going to be the last time I’m playing here, the last week and everything has been really emotional for me. Every time I was on my own, I find myself getting a bit emotional and thinking about it. I’ll try and enjoy the mixed doubles. It should be fun. Then I’ve got a family holiday planned, then the Olympics. That’s it.”