Nino Severino: What doesn’t break you, makes you - Why Andy Murray’s winning return is a mini-miracle
- Credit: AP
In his latest column, Nino Severino discusses Sir Andy Murray’s incredible comeback from the brink of retirement to winning another tennis title.
I could not dedicate my column to any other story this week than Sir Andy Murray's remarkable win at the European Open in Antwerp on Sunday.
This is simply an incredible achievement, considering he virtually announced his retirement last January following major hip surgery.
Andy was in real trouble with the hip - I am very close with one of his family members and during a lunch back in December 2018 they told me of the trauma he was suffering through. I was amazed he played at the Australian Open this year.
The sheer fight in Murray is incredible, only earlier this year the greats of the game had said their goodbyes to him.
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Fellow tennis titan Rafa Nadal said: "He will be a big loss for tennis, Andy has probably been fighting to keep going for a long time. If he doesn't feel that the injury can become better, he has probably done the right thing for his mental health.
"When you are going on court without a clear goal because you cannot move well and you have pain, then it is the time to take a decision."
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It's incredible to think that Murray first met Nadal, who is known as "The King of Clay", with 19 Grand Slam titles to his name, when they were teenagers and competing against each other on the junior tennis circuit.
I truly believe that the giants of the tennis world, like Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic genuinely mourn the loss of other greats who they have come through the ranks with as children. It's understandable.
Nadal also said: "All the best to him. We will miss him, but today is him, tomorrow another one, we are not 20 anymore, our generation, everyone is more than 30 - these kinds of things happen."
It's so sad that great eras will always come to an end, especially the era of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray, and I can totally understand why Andy was going to fight all the way to keep his place in this great phase of tennis history.
I am privileged enough to have supported my wife at many of the great Grand Slams and top tournaments that Andy attended, and he is an incredible man, on and off the court - powerful and skilful on it, gentle and caring off.
I always remember how much respect he had for Elena when they met, whether it was on site at the tournament or passing each other in the hotel. They both grew up under the watchful eye of Andy's mother, Judy, so they went a long way back.
Andy's win at the European Open cannot be underestimated - he cried and with good reason, coming through an experience such as the one he suffered is incredibly emotional for an athlete.
These players know nothing else, some cannot even remember a time they did not have a racket in their hand, having started playing at the age of three or four, so to leave a life that you have been completely committed to is a massive wrench.
Andy would have gone through the process of fighting to convince himself he could have one more shot at it, and that must have been incredibly difficult, as I am sure most people inside and outside the sport would have given him absolutely no chance.
It's difficult to fight against the tide of opinion, and this is a reflection of Andy's mental strength and resilience, and the tennis warrior he's proved he is over many years.
But Andy is well and truly back, making it through five rounds of world class tennis in Belgium, and beating Stan Wawrinka, a Grand Slam champion himself, in the final to take the European Open title.
This was not a low-ranked warm-up comeback tournament, it included players such as Tsonga, Simon, Lopez, Pella, all world class opponents.
So this was not simply a title win. I would class this result as a mini miracle - he climbed out from of the jaws of enforced retirement and is back where he belongs, at the top of world tennis.
So, what can we expect next? Well, in my view absolutely anything. My prediction is that Andy will come back stronger than ever - what does not break you, makes you.
This trauma, this hurt, could be exactly what drives Andy Murray on to win many more Grand Slam titles.