Andy Murray joins exclusive club with Dubai win but admits retirement is close - 'I’ll do the best that I can these last few months'

The Scot progressed to the second round in the UAE with a trademark three-set win over Shapovalov

Andy Murray admitted that he “probably hasn’t got long left” as a tennis player but vowed to do the “best that he can these last few months” after reaching 500 career wins on a hard court following a trademark gutsy victory over Denis Shapovalov at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

The 36-year-old Scot used every ounce of his experience and fortitude to recover from a set down against the Canadian and progress to a second-round clash with either fifth seed Ugo Humbert or Gael Monfils on Wednesday. A former champion in Dubai, Murray – now ranked 67 in the world – overcame the 23-year-old 4-6 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 in just over two-and-a-half hours in front of his watching father Willie, who he thanked afterwards for his support.

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Murray has repeatedly hinted that 2024 could be his last on tour and he made no secret that the end of his glittering career is on the horizon when speaking following the victory. He said last week while going down to Jakub Mensik in Doha that “this game isn’t for him anymore” and while he cautioned against reading too much into his on-court chuntering, he did admit that he is in the last stages of his tennis career.

Andy Murray won his 500th hard-court match by beating Denis Shapovalov.Andy Murray won his 500th hard-court match by beating Denis Shapovalov.
Andy Murray won his 500th hard-court match by beating Denis Shapovalov.

"People read a lot into what I say on the court sometimes and it’s not always rational,” said Murray. “But everyone asks me about it anyway! I obviously still love competing and still love the game, but it gets harder and harder, the older you get, to compete with the young guys and keep your body fit and fresh. It’s not easy, I probably don’t have too long left but I’ll do the best that I can these last few months.”

On beating Shapovalov, who started the match well with some blistering shots, Murray continued: “Both of us haven’t won too many matches lately and he missed a large part of last year. He’s played well here in the past and he’s serving unbelievably. You have to try and get the balance right between reacting to his big shots but not just trying to put balls in the court. It wasn’t easy but I managed to get it done in the end.”

Murray will get a day off before taking on Humbert or wildcard Monfils on Wednesday, both from France. “I like the conditions – they are a lot faster than the places on tour,” said Murray. “We always get brilliant support here. I’ve done my off-season training on this court. I was also here a couple of weeks ago on holiday with my family. I enjoy coming here and glad to get through another first round.”

Murray made sure to thank his dad before the on-court interview ended, adding: “My dad’s come to support me this week, which means a lot.”

This was the third meeting between Murray and Shapovalov, with both men having a victory apiece to their name. Shapovalov took down Murray at Wimbledon in 2021, but Murray exacted revenge on the clay in Madrid a year later. Shapovalov started the better of the two and broke in the ninth game to edge the first set 6-4. The second set went to a tie-break, with Shapovalov double-faulting at 5-5 to hand Murray the initiative. An early break by the Scot in the third set gave him the foundation to go on and win, breaking again to clinch it 6-3.

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