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Andy Murray Takes a Pasting From Denis Shapovalov at Wimbledon but he is not Done Yet

By Alix Ramsay

Every rollercoaster run has to end at some point and Andy Murray’s ride came to a juddering halt on Friday night. Under the roof with the crowd hoping, howling and hollering for him to turn the match around, he lost to Denis Shapovalov in straight sets.

For the doom merchants, this was expected. For the over optimistic, this was a disappointment. But for the realists, this was just one of those things: he was clumped 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in two hours and 17 minutes by a much younger man; by the No.10 seed and by a bloke with two normal hips.

That said, Murray fought. He always does. But he had been fighting for seven and a half hours and nine sets before he got to this third round match. And for a man who had played just 40 matches in the past three and a half years, that was a tough lead-in.

He had worked himself as hard as was possible to get himself ready for Wimbledon but, then again, the possible was not enough. He wanted to be able to do the hard yards on the practice courts and in the gym for as long as was necessary but his body would not allow it. Not allow it consistently, at any rate.

“There is a part of me that feels a bit like I have put in so much work the last three months and, you know, ultimately didn’t play how I would want and expect, and it’s like is it worth it?” he said. “Is all of that training and everything that you’re doing in the gym, unless you’re able to like practice and improve your game and get matches and continue, get a run of tournaments, like, is it worth all of the work that you’re doing?

“There is part of me that feels like, yes, it is, because I had great memories from this event and playing in some brilliant atmosphere. But then, also, I finished the match tonight and I’m saying to my team, I’m like, I’m just not happy with how I played.”

In his first two matches, he had managed to feed off the energy of the Centre Court crowd and had revitalised himself after the roof had been closed (a 17 or 18 minute break in proceedings during both of those matches). But on Friday, he was playing a proper contender; he was up against Shapovalov who is just 22 (so has a fuel tank the size of the Dordogne) and who is ranked No.12 in the world. This was different.

“It’s difficult,” he said. “I feel like I have been trying a lot the last couple years, obviously since I had the operation [and] never really being able to get that much momentum going.

“For me to be able to compete with guys at his level, my game needs to be spot-on, really. I mean, it would have been difficult for me even when I was playing at my best, to compete with someone as good as him or any of the top players really if my game is not quite there.

“If my game is not quite spot-on physically, I’m not perfect, or physically, like, really fresh, it’s going to be hard for me. It’s extremely frustrating, because I feel like I put a lot of work into getting to this point, and then obviously to lose like that is tough.

“Being as good as he is. I don’t want to take anything away from his performance. He played really, really well.

“But, you know, if I’m going to put that much effort in, I want to be performing better than I did here. Even though there were some great moments.”

He was speaking just a half an hour or so after his loss. He was obviously disappointed. And as so many people had been assuming that this would be his last hurrah, it was easy to deduce that he was not long for the professional world. Yet the Olympics are coming (and he is the defending champion there) and the hard court summer is coming. Is he done? Probably not yet.

“I don’t know exactly, like, how much worse my movement is, for example, than in 2016,” he said. “I’m probably not moving as well as then. I’m aware of that.

“But then, like, the way that I hit the ball and stuff, that has nothing to do with my hip. So I can still play good and high-level tennis. You know, just maybe I’m not moving quite as well as I used to.

“So I’m hoping that providing I can stay on the court consistently for, you know, two, three, four months, yeah, that my tennis will get back to a high level.

“I’m not saying I played perfect tennis here, by any stretch, but there were moments in the match against Basilashvili [in the first round] where I was playing well, and the last couple sets against Otte [in the second round], I think I did play some good tennis there.

“But the consistency is the thing that’s been all over the place, and, yeah, that’s something that we’ll need to change the next couple months.”

If he is thinking about the next couple of months then the man with the tin hip is looking to the future. That future may not last for very long but it is there, nonetheless. And that is all the Wimbledon faithful wanted to hear. Buy your tickets now for the next Murray rollercoaster ride.