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Resilient Murray's Clear Message: 'I'm Going To Keep Playing'

  • Posted: Jun 28, 2021

Two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray flirted with disaster on Monday evening on Centre Court. The former World No. 1 led 24th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-3, 5-0, putting himself on the verge of a berth into the second round at the grass-court major. But that advantage rapidly disappeared.

Suddenly, Basilashvili won seven consecutive games to force a fourth set and the momentum was fully on the Georgian’s side. Would the Scot be able to physically and mentally recover from that letdown? Like he has throughout his career, Murray fought back. It is the same trait that has helped him return from his latest hip surgery of 2019, and it is that resilience that carried him to a four-set triumph against Basilashvili.

“I didn’t deal with the pressure well at the end of the third set. But having to come back out and try and win a match, having just lost seven games in a row from 5-Love up on Centre Court, a lot of players would have capitulated there, and I did the opposite of that,” Murray said. “There is pressure in that moment as well. When you’re starting the fourth set, having just lost seven games on the spin, the headlines of that [would have been that] you have choked… and it’s one of the worst defeats of your career.

“[That is] what you would have heard after that match had I lost. [It] is not easy to turn that around.”

Murray’s battling spirit was apparent, and it was not something new. Tennis fans have seen it throughout the 34-year-old’s career. But where did he learn to compete as well as he does?

“I was just exposed to competition from a very young age with my brother and then with tennis and playing sports,” Murray said. “There was that element of winning and losing, elements of [that in] pretty much everything I was doing as my hobbies or in my spare time.

“Whether that was playing football or tennis, golf, whatever, I was always playing games and always competing. I have enjoyed playing board games and that sort of stuff. [I have] just done it loads since I was a kid, so I just had a lot of exposure to it it just comes quite naturally.”

After the match, Murray had plenty of emotions. The Scot was thrilled to win, and he was even in a joking mood after disclosing that he used the restroom during the break after the third set — Murray made sure to note it was a “No. 1” — when the roof was closed. But most noticeably, the three-time Grand Slam winner made clear that he is here to stay.

“I keep getting asked is this going to be my last Wimbledon, last match? I don’t know why I keep getting asked about it,” Murray said on court. “No, I’m going to keep playing. I want to play… I can still play at the highest level. He’s ranked 28th in the world and I haven’t hardly played any matches and I beat him.”

It was a memorable match for Murray, who enjoyed the loud crowd on Centre Court, which helped push him through despite his hiccup.

“I realised the past 18 months not to take moments like that for granted. Enjoy those things that we love doing,” Murray said. “I think everyone was into it today. It was a really good atmosphere, and it didn’t feel like the crowd was half full.”

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Murray Escapes Basilashvili To Make Winning Return At Wimbledon

  • Posted: Jun 28, 2021

Two-time former champion Andy Murray made a dramatic return to singles action at the All England Club on Monday, overcoming a late wobble as he toppled 24th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 to reach the second round at Wimbledon.

Murray was making his first Wimbledon singles appearance since 2017, when he reached the quarter-finals before falling to Sam Querrey in five sets. He missed the 2018 event due to ongoing recovery from hip surgery, and competed only in men’s doubles (w/Herbert) and mixed doubles (w/S. Williams) here in 2019.

Playing in just his fourth Tour-level event of the year, Murray fired 17 aces against Basilashvili as he improved his perfect record in Wimbledon first rounds to 13-0. He is now 3-3 on the season. 

Murray, currently No. 118 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, had his work cut out for him as he faced the in-form Basilashvili, who has lifted two ATP Tour trophies this season, on Centre Court. 

The wild card did not face a break point, but was unable to make any inroads in the Georgian’s service games across the first nine games of the set. Murray chipped away at Basilashvili’s aggressive game by adding variety to his groundstrokes, breaking up his opponent’s rhythm and never letting him get comfortable. 

As a result, Murray earned 39 unforced errors off the Georgian’s racquet in the match, and 13 in the first set. A Basilashvili drop shot attempt into the net took Murray to his first break point at 5-4, which he converted to take the opening set. 

With the first set under his belt, Murray settled into the match and redirected Basilashvili’s pace as he fired nine winners to take the second. He was nearly untouchable in the early stretches of the third set, with three breaks of serve – including back-to-back breaks to love – putting him 5-0 ahead and closing in on the victory. 

But Basilashvili refused to wilt away, and the 24th seed took advantage of a spate of unforced errors from Murray to work his way back into the set. He got two of the breaks back as he directed traffic to the misfiring Murray backhand, and saved two match points to close the gap to 5-4. 

Murray’s first serve percentage took a dive in the second half of the third set (from 84 per cent in the first set to 56 per cent) as Basilashvili kept the pressure on. The Georgian broke twice more, and Murray struck his 13th unforced error of the set to give Basilashvili a lifeline in the match.

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After a brief pause in play to close the roof over Centre Court, Murray came back swinging in the fourth set as he edged his way in front after three straight breaks and held serve for the first time in six service games to lead 3-1. That would prove to be decisive as, nearly one hour and a half after his first match points, Murray once again arrived at match point. This time, he claimed the victory to see off Basilashvili and book a place in the second round. 

Murray will next face either German qualifier Oscar Otte or French qualifier Arthur Rinderknech. Otte and Rinderknech were deadlocked after three hours and 39 minutes in the fifth set at 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 7-6(5), 9-9 when their match was suspended due to darkness. Rinderknech claimed the first set while Otte took the next two, before the Frenchman sent them into a fifth. 

Did You Know?
Murray is contesting his 51st Grand Slam event here, extending his record for most Grand Slam appearances by a British man in the Open Era. He claimed sole ownership of the record, ahead of Tim Henman, by contesting his 50th Grand Slam event at Roland Garros last year.

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The Nomadic Life With… Frances Tiafoe

  • Posted: Jun 28, 2021

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on 24 March 2021

Frances Tiafoe is one of the most popular players on Tour. You will rarely find the American without a smile on his face, and he is always having fun with his colleagues. caught up with Tiafoe, who is playing Stefanos Tsitsipas in the first round at Wimbledon, to learn more about his life on the ATP Tour.

What are two essential non-tennis items you always pack for trips?
My HDMI cord, I’ve got to be able to play my tunes, watch my Netflix on TV and then usually a speaker, play some tunes and kind of relax.

I’m listening to a lot of Afrobeats music, a lot of Afro tunes, obviously some rap… and I like documentaries. I watched Tony Parker, the new documentary, and then some movies. I watched the movie Just Mercy with Michael B. Jordan, so [I do] things like that.

What item did you forget to bring one time that caused you distress?
Oh man, I forget everything. I’ve left racquets at home, somehow left shoes. I’ve packed my whole bag without my clothes, I’m the worst. Passport, too. When you go on tour, say I’m in Washington, D.C. and I’m flying out to Florida, obviously I don’t need a passport. Then I’m trying to leave from Florida and my passport’s in D.C., so I’ve got to take a flight a day later. Someone has to fly down and get me the passport, because if they ship it, it’ll take too long. I’m the worst at that, man.

Do you enjoy travelling the world or consider it just something that needs to be done to be a pro tennis player? If you do enjoy it, what do you enjoy about travelling?
It’s a combination. I enjoy it, but you do get used to because this is what we do. There’s no gimmick. I’m kind of used to it. It’s tougher now in the bubbles, fully isolated all the time. But pre-Covid, I couldn’t really complain.

I miss being home, but I try to bring the home atmosphere to the road. At the Slams and stuff, I try to go to nice dinners, roam around the city, go to my favourite spots and hang out and do my thing.

Can you talk about a time you decided to play a specific tournament in part because you wanted to travel to that city?
In Argentina [earlier this year]. Obviously, it’s a bubble right now. [But during normal times], some weeks I try to see the city. The first time I went to the Estoril ATP 250, I wanted to see what people were talking about. I like going to certain places. Before I retire, I want to say I did all the swings and see what it’s like.

What is your favourite tournament city to visit and why?
Melbourne. I love everything Melbourne represents. The people are great, the food’s great. Everything, the vibes, they love their tennis over there. There’s a tonne of fun things to do. I liked the vibes in Argentina. I love playing New York. I love playing obviously home in D.C., the ATP 500. Crowds I like a lot.

What is your craziest travel story?
When I was younger, I went to Mexico and my bags didn’t come through. I was younger, I was playing in the quarter-finals of the Under 16s. I had everything in my tennis bag — passport, shoes, racquets, the whole nine — and we’re getting up to leave and my guy, Jordi Arconada, he’s like, “We’ve been waiting for you.” I said, “I don’t know where my bag is.” We’ve got a whole night, so I was like for sure it’ll come up in the morning and never did.

I walked on to play my quarter-final using some Canadian guy’s racquets. I played the first four games in running shoes, because the shop didn’t open until half an hour into the match. That was probably the craziest thing that happened to me. 

Are there any routines or activities you do to create a sense of ‘home on the road’ to feel more comfortable?
It’s vibes, man. I try to do everything i can. I love music, watching Netflix, do a tonne of Facetime. Just chilling. I’m not big on bringing too much stuff, because I end up losing it.

How do you try to overcome jetlag and acclimate to the local time zone?
I’m horrible at jetlag. It took me about a week, eight days to get right after Melbourne. I just stop caring about it. It’s 10 a.m. and it’s nighttime over there [in Melbourne] and I’m like, “I’m just going to go to sleep.” I can’t hustle all day. Especially now with Covid, you can’t hang out outside all day. The first day I got back I slept like 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Didn’t sleep a lick all night, not one hour through the night. It was bad.

Got any tips to get comfortable on a flight? And how do you pass the time?
Recline the chair back, cock the head to the left and that’s it. I’m done. The longer flights I try to go business so I can lay all the way back, but the shorter flights I usually get an exit row, reclining and cocking to the left. Get a good play list playing.

Are you someone who gets to the airport with lots of time to spare or do you cut it fine?
I cut it close because I can’t sit in airports. My guy, Jordi, freaks out about everything. We had a flight about 9:20 p.m. He wanted to be there at about 9:20 a.m. I was like, “Cool, okay.” Usually, I like to keep it close. I get to the airport and just get in there. You start living on the edge, man. It’s kind of unnecessary. But I actually liked it. We went to the airport at a decent time, had a good dinner.

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