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Andy Murray’s third-round exit at Wimbledon by Denis Shapovalov puts him in a quandary

Is it really worth all the agony, Andy? Murray’s third-round exit at Wimbledon by Denis Shapovalov puts him in a quandary even if he is likely to get direct entry into the US Open later this year

  • Andy Murray cut a somewhat confused figure late on Friday before going home 
  • He was downcast after Denis Shapovalov beat him in straight sets at Wimbledon 
  • Murray however is likely to emerge with a ranking of around 102 next week
  • The road ahead is not easy, as summed up by John McEnroe speaking to the BBC 

Andy Murray cut a somewhat confused figure late on Friday before spending one last night in the Wimbledon bubble, prior to retreating home to Surrey.

Pleased with some aspects of another memorable week, downcast after the abrupt reminder given to him by Denis Shapovalov about the standards required to compete at the very top. Wondering, after four years, if all the grind continues to be worth it.

There is, however, one clear benefit of having made Wimbledon’s third round: it should have sufficiently boosted his ranking to gain him direct entry to the US Open later this summer.

Andy Murray cut a somewhat confused figure late on Friday before spending one last night in the Wimbledon bubble

He was downcast after Denis Shapovalov beat him in straight sets at Wimbledon

He was downcast after Denis Shapovalov beat him in straight sets at Wimbledon

Murray is likely to emerge with a ranking of around 102 next week. That should be just about enough to book a slot at Flushing Meadows, without having to go cap in hand for a wildcard.

The road ahead is not easy, as summed up by John McEnroe, speaking in his role with the BBC on Saturday. The American is among the many who wish him well, but sees the difficulties he faces.

‘We want to see him go out on the terms he wants to go on,’ said McEnroe. ‘Ultimately you have to get out on the court and, guess what, he’s going to play on a cement surface now. That’s not going to be easy when you have to start and stop and slide.

‘Everything that he’s gone through just to get to the point where obviously his body wasn’t up to it against Shapovalov. There’s a fair amount of guys who hit the ball as hard as that. You need explosion in that first step. If you don’t have it, with the way these guys hit the ball, you’re done.

But making the third round should have sufficiently boosted his ranking to gain him direct entry to the US Open

But making the third round should have sufficiently boosted his ranking to gain him direct entry to the US Open

‘He is in the top six to eight movers ever. He won a lot of matches that way. But Andy’s style is more reactive than proactive and playing that way is extremely difficult if you feel you’ve lost a little half or quarter step. How long can he keep playing at 100 in the world?’

As the 34-year-old Scot stated following his defeat, what he needs above all is court time, and the technical business of getting into the best tournaments has become an increasing issue for him. Another former great, Venus Williams, is in a similar boat.

Among the dilemmas Murray has to work through is how many more wildcards he will have to ask for to get the opportunities. Some tournament directors have become wary about his non-attendance after making a request and accepting them.

He clearly wants to play on, and the allure of performing next year on a packed Centre Court is a powerful one. Yet there is a law of diminishing returns at work, with all the effort needed just to keep him in a fit state to compete, with that lump of metal now attached in his hip.

The road ahead is not easy, as summed up by John McEnroe, speaking in his role with the BBC

The road ahead is not easy, as summed up by John McEnroe, speaking in his role with the BBC

Murray made it clear that after spending time with his family he is looking ahead to Tokyo. When it comes to the doubles there, Britain’s No 1 Joe Salisbury is counting on him, having picked him as a partner.

‘We leave five days before the start of the tournament, I don’t know what I’ll do between now and then,’ said Murray. ‘Obviously get some practice in. I have spoken to Joe, and I want to spend a bit of time preparing with him. I’ve never played with him before, so it will be good to spend some time on the court together.’

Playing doubles — something he is brilliant at — would be one way for him to continue his career as it requires considerably less movement.

Yet he has never expressed much enthusiasm for that as a way of heading off into the sunset, although you would think going for a Grand Slam title with brother Jamie might appeal.

Murray made it clear that after spending time with his family he is looking ahead to Tokyo

Murray made it clear that after spending time with his family he is looking ahead to Tokyo

As McEnroe observed, it is a question of where he wants to pitch his sights.

This debate about his future is hardly new, just more visible at Wimbledon. A fresh dimension to it is that it comes after several weeks when performances from other players have shown there is going to be life in British tennis after its greatest player retires.

How long it is before the post-Murray era begins will be a subject preoccupying him this weekend. 

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