Andy Murray and the Impossible Something

I think I’m ready to admit that at times last year, my emotional investment in the career of Andy Murray left me feeling somewhat tired. Not because of his form but because I knew that he wasn’t going to give up even with the whole world telling him that it was time. Never let it be said that it’s not OK to be frustrated with athletes’ attitudes. Especially those that we love. Especially those that steadfastly refuse to accept endings. Because until they accept that it’s over, we can’t either. I couldn’t either. I just couldn’t.

But I came close. Oh, boy, I think I came close.

I knew that I and so many of my friends that I’ve been lucky enough to meet through being a fan of this irritatingly resilient man would end up being there long after many more casual supporters had turned out the lights and closed up shop on having faith in seeing something more from him. More than that though, I found that an ugly sense of familiarity greeted me with every Murray tournament entry. Indeed, I found myself getting used to first and second round losses, meeting them with a handshake of acceptance of where he now found himself, a low whisper of “he did alright, he tried, there’s always next week…” exchanged with my fellow diehard supporters.

“But is next week really worth it?” I would find myself wondering later on when on my own. “Like, is this really what he wants, is this really what’s making him happy?” The fact of the matter is that Murray has never been alright just making up the numbers in draws. He’ll have been sick and tired of handing players weekly opportunities to speak about how much of an honour it was to play him in their winner’s post-match on-court interviews. That’s what he became, a big name that holds weight with his career achievements but could be scalped with a heavy and consistent baseline performance by good players and claimed as a demonstration of their own personal talent.

If this sounds like the talk of a bitter fan, that’s because it’s exactly what it is. That’s exactly what I was. Murray owes us nothing but his impact on my life has at times delusioned me, made me feel like maybe he does a bit, like maybe after all these goddamn years of screaming ourselves into nothingness for him, that maybe, just maybe, he owed us just one final something. And I think I came to a point where I realised that something was perhaps a step too far for him, that this guy of such career fight was now on his back and breathing heavy with the weight of metal and pain and one final career ride.

To count out miracle-makers before their final breath is a mistake often made and I think last year, I came very close to making it. I came close to accepting the running down of the clock, the dying of the light, the setting of the sun. Murray, built different as he is and wired with a surgeon’s knife to be sent back into battle, was cramping up, his muscles seizing in early rounds of best-of-three-set tournaments. As his season ended, it was the first time that I ever recall taking a step back and taking in what I thought was writing written large up on the wall that loomed dark behind each and every Murray loss.

***

Embed from Getty Images

Roaring into the Melbourne morning at 4am, Andy Murray looked like a dead man walking, so fucking ALIVE in spite of obvious exhaustion, a winner in spite of his bodily restraints that should have rendered him gone. An impossibility of a man, he stood there only briefly, barking on the crowd that were wired in within the lateness. But what I feel Murray does better than most is that his attitude can at times take hold of the cameras that watch him and speak one-to-one through the screens to those at home and in that moment, I felt it for me.

“You thought I was done, didn’t you, Scott? You of all people, with your cardboard cutout and podcast and silly little tweets about me. You thought me finished…”

And I am not ashamed to say that I found myself emotional because after following this man to the ends of the Earth, yes, I think I maybe did a little. I think I did. I thought I’d seen it all. And so if Murray has taught me anything over the first two rounds of the Australian Open 2023, it’s that it’s fun to be just a little bit mad with your expectations in spite of the disappointment that often follows. Because every now and then, that craziness will creep on through into reality to give us something. Whatever happens now, whatever Murray goes on to do at this tournament, whatever I go on to do in life, whatever you – yes, you reading this right now! – go on to do with the rest of your day, remember that something is always possible. Always.

What he proved last night is that even if he’s nailed in a casket and buried in the ashes of fire hot, Andy Murray will rise from the aftersmoke of it all with a limp in his walk and a glint in his eyes to ask us all with the most serious of dour Scottish wearisomeness “now is that really all you’ve got?”

Warrior: Andy Murray wins back-to-back 5 set matches at the Australian Open 2023. Screenshot: Australian Open Youtube Channel

2 thoughts on “Andy Murray and the Impossible Something

  1. I’ve thought about you a lot over the last few days and actually getting a bit misty about how happy this was probably making you. This beautiful piece of writing shows me how right I was.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: