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Covid Jab is a ‘No-brainer’ says Andy Murray as he Prepares for Wimbledon

By Alix Ramsay

Andy Murray thinks that getting a Covid vaccination is a “no-brainer” – if he is offered one, he will take it without a murmur.

He has spent most of this year sitting on the sidelines of the sport he loves as one setback after another has stopped him from competing. While he has looked on from afar, he has heard his peers moan and whinge about living life in “the bubble” as they play for the biggest trophies on the biggest stages. And he sounds decidedly unimpressed with their arguments, particularly the arguments of those who are opposed to the vaccination.

“It isn’t that much fun going and staying in the bubbles,” Murray told the Press Association in the UK. “In Miami, for example, you look out of the window and the whole city’s completely open but the players are obviously in the bubble. I can appreciate from the players’ perspective that that can be frustrating.

“And, because it’s been going on for a while, it’s a bit tiring. And I know for some of the Aussie players, they’re looking at nine or 10 months away from home because if they go home, they have to do two weeks [quarantine] in a hotel.

“So I appreciate all that, that it is difficult. But, at the same time, seeing 60,000 people died in Brazil last month because of coronavirus, if this is what we have to do to be able to continue to do our jobs and to give the tournaments some security [then so be it].

“If you want to avoid having to be in a bubble for too long, you need to then support the vaccination because you can’t just say, ‘No we want to just live normally and we don’t want any bubbles but we also don’t want to be vaccinated’. It’s a no-brainer to me.”

Murray will turn 34 in three weeks so he has a while to wait before he will get his first Covid jab from the NHS in Britain (this week, 44-year-olds are being asked to book their appointments).  But even if he were to have his first vaccination today – April 26 – he would not get his second jab until after Wimbledon was over. If he is to get back to playing tournaments just now, he will have to go back to living life in the bubble.

Yet, regardless of the vaccination programme, Wimbledon is being extremely cautious in its planning for The Championships. Whether a player has been jabbed or not, whether he or she has had Covid or not, they will all have to stay in official hotels in central London during the fortnight. Ironically, as the players are going back into London lockdown, the rest of the country will be enjoying their first taste of freedom from all lockdown restrictions (we will be set free on June 21, all things being equal).

And even though Murray lives a 20-minute drive away from the All England Club, he will not be allowed to live at home; he will be in lockdown with everyone else as long as he is still involved in the tournament. No matter, it is a price he is willing to pay if he can get back on a Wimbledon court, particularly one with a decent crowd cheering him on.

“Obviously I would way rather not be staying in a hotel,” he said. “It would be a shame but, if that’s what we’ve got to do to keep everyone safe, then that’s what we’ll do.

“Hopefully we can get some good crowds in. We’ve heard 30 per cent, but I don’t know if that’s 30 per cent of their usual capacity but they’ll be allowed to have Centre Court and Court One full. So we’ll see. For me, it would make a huge difference. 

“At the beginning I didn’t miss it [the crowds] that much, I was just pumped to be competing again. But, as the weeks go on, that’s kind of what you play for, to play in front of big crowds and play in great atmospheres. It’s something that I’ve definitely missed.”

For the moment, though, just being able to play at all would be a major cause for celebration. At the start of the year, he was a fit as a flea after two months of intensive training but then he caught Covid and had to miss the Australian Open. His schedule has been stop-start ever since.

He played a couple of Challenger events while his usual rivals were in Melbourne and then moved on to Rotterdam where Andrey Rublev stopped him in the second round. He then withdrew from Dubai after his wife gave birth to their fourth child (although that could hardly be described as a setback) and got ready for his next target: Miami. But after arriving in the US and practicing well enough, he woke up in the middle of the night with a pain in his left hip. That put the kibosh on his participation in Florida.

So far, he has played only eight matches this year.

But he is back on court again now and playing practice points – but where he goes from here is still uncertain. The grass court season is his main goal but, potentially, he could ask for a wild card into any of the clay court events leading up to the French Open.

“I need to be consistently practising [rather than] having these enforced breaks. That was the thing in December, why I think I got into such a good place was because of the two months of practising basically six days a week every week for a couple of months.

“By the end of that my game started to feel really good. That’s the first thing is to be able to be on the practice court consistently and then I obviously need to get the matches. How many matches that is, I don’t know.”

As for life in the bubble, there is one upside that Murray did not mention. As the proud father of four children all under the age of six, a few weeks in the peace and quiet of a London hotel might not be all that bad. He will miss his family sure enough – but an uninterrupted night’s sleep will seem like a luxury.