The second of the four tennis Grand Slams is currently underway – the French Open at Roland Garros. But it won’t be long until the All England Club opens its doors once more, following Wimbledon’s postponement last year.
One man looking to return to the men’s singles at SW19 is Andy Murray. The Scot, who previously won Wimbledon twice (2013 and 2016), did not compete in the singles at the last two tournaments – although in 2019, he played in the men’s doubles and mixed doubles.
The former was his first appearance since 2005, and he made it past the first round, but he and his partner, Pierre-Hugues Herbert were knocked out by the sixth seeds in the subsequent round. In the mixed doubles, he famously paired with Serena Williams, but the duo exited in the third round, by the number one seeds.
News recently broke that Murray had pulled out of the French Open, to focus on the grass season and Wimbledon. While it’s fair to say that the 2021 Wimbledon odds aren’t in Murray’s favour when it comes to winning the men’s singles – and he can be found at a price of 25/1 – it’s been a difficult few years for the injury-ridden 34-year-old. To have the fans back on Murray Mound – and around the courts themselves – willing him on could well prove to be the tonic.
The 2021 edition of Wimbledon gets underway on June 28th – a week after the current restrictions are expected to be lifted in England – and while we have seen a return to fans at other sporting events, it will be no different at Wimbledon. The official numbers have yet to be announced, but at this stage, we could see the crowds at 30% capacity. Some fans are better than no fans, and of course, it would make a huge difference to the players out on court.
On the subject, Murray said: “At the beginning I didn’t miss it (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.”
Wimbledon has been a happy hunting ground for Murray over the years. In addition, to his two titles, the Scot has reached the final three times in total. Between the years of 2008 and 2017, he has always got as far as the quarter-finals, at the very least – before missing out on the last two editions.
The three-time Grand Slam winner recently returned to action in Rome, in the Italian Open. Pairing up with Liam Broady in the doubles, the pair were knocked out in the round of 16. It was the first time in two months that Murray had played – he was forced to withdraw from the Miami Open in March.
And Murray declined the wildcard invitation for the Geneva Open, which was played last month – instead, opting to play at either the Stuttgart Open or the Challenger at Nottingham – both events played on grass.
He summed it up when he said: “I need to be consistently practising (rather than) having these enforced breaks.”
“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.”