Tennis-Murray gives fans an effort to remember in Miami swan song

By Thomson Reuters Mar 24, 2024 | 9:23 PM

By Steve Keating

MIAMI (Reuters) – In what was his final appearance at the Miami Open, Andy Murray gave tennis fans a resolute performance to remember on Sunday in a 5-7 7-5 7-6(5) third round defeat to Czech Tomas Machac.

For all his talent it is Murray’s heart and refusal to wave the white flag that powered him to three grand slam titles and earned him respect from his fellow players and an army of fans.

The 36-year old displayed those qualities in his Miami swan song with a vintage performance that drew roaring approval from the packed house on Butch Bucholz court.

The match statistics alone did not measure Murray’s work.

Tied at a set each and 5-5 in third, the match looked finished when Murray rolled over on his left ankle, dropped his racquet and then covered his face screaming in pain as he hopped to his bench grimacing.

After being treated by the trainer a defiant Murray restrapped his ankle and returned to the court.

The third set would go to a tie-break with Murray building a 5-3 advantage but the former-world number one could not close the deal as Machac, who had earlier upset fifth seed Andrey Rublev, added another big name to his victims list.

As he will likely do many times as his retirement nears Murray grabbed his gear, walked out onto the court one more time and applauded the crowd soaking up the moment.

“I wasn’t thinking about all the matches I played just more that that’s the last match that I am going play here which is sad because I love it here,” Murray told a small group of reporters. “I’ve spent so much of my tennis career here and I would have liked it to have gone on a little bit longer.

“This tournament in particularly for me is an important one so it was a bit more emotional leaving the court today than it might be at some of the other events.

“I am looking forward to the end now, give my best the next few months and get to be at home with my family,”

While this time came to a disappointing end, Murray will take more than great memories away from Miami.

Until the Miami Open, Murray had not registered back-to-back wins at any tournament this year.

He departs with confidence boosting victories over Matteo Berrettini and 29th seed Tomas ­Martín Etcheverry and came close to stringing together three wins at a Masters 1000 event or better since 2017.

“It was pretty positive,” said Murray, twice a winner of the Miami Open. “There was some good signs in my game, definitely an improvement on the last few tournaments.

“Not perfect but considering everything and to be winning matches against the players I did and pushing Tomas like I did today, yeah I am proud of myself.

“To still be able to compete with these guys is a credit to myself and the work I have done and effort I have put into this to keep myself in this position.”

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Miami; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)