Wimbledon 2022: Andy Murray doesn’t need to play on but we’d love it if he did

Andy Murray is an emotional man. It’s one of the things we love about him.

He had to confront powerful moments - not least one of the darkest horror - long before that summer afternoon on Centre Court when he broke down in tears after losing his first Wimbledon final.

Since then, there have been occasions where the voice has crumbled to croakiness when he seems to revert to a robotic delivery to steel himself for getting through the next minute or two. He did this again late on Wednesday night.

It was the “if” word which almost tripped him up. Yes, he would continue to play tennis - if his health would allow. Yes, he could be back at Wimbledon next year - if he could dodge any more injuries. No, we had not necessarily seen the last of him - just as long as his body held out.

Andy Murray leaves the court after his second-round defeat to John Isner at Wimbledon. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

But how difficult was all of that to predict? Very. Some hypotheticals are more straightforward. Like what kind of game to expect from John Isner.

Actually, that’s wrong. Everyone seemed to know how their second-round contest would go. There was so much emphasis beforehand on the big American’s ginormous serve that you almost expected the match to come with a spoiler alert.

Yes, Isner’s serving was phenomenal. But so was his forehand and touch around the net. He played the perfect game. And, as he acknowledged in one of the most gracious winner’s speeches for many a year, he had to do this to overcome our man.

See, Murray’s still a top player. Still a terrific battler. So he should keep on keeping on, yes? Sure, if he really wants to - on you go, big man. But no one - in a sport employing large retinues possibly including a masseur and someone to buff up the ego as well - will need to tell this man of independent mind that time is the enemy. If not for the metal hip then for the rest of his component parts.

Murray the Magnificent reappeared on Wednesday, shimmering like a ghost. At other moments we wondered where he’d gone. That’s the trouble with a sportsman who imprints himself on the consciousness to such a degree: we know his moves, how he runs, grunts, beats himself up, the entire gameplan - his “web” as Isner called it, and one the latter had to do everything to avoid, otherwise he would have been a goner. Or rather we think we know all of this.

But what we don’t know is whether the shortfall between this performance and some of the golden ones was down to the dream showing of the opponent or Murray not being 100 percent on fitness, training and match-time - and crucially whether that gap is bridgeable and if he wants to attempt to close it.

He doesn’t need to. He’s Sir Andy. He’s a multi-millionaire. The kids are at a fun age. He might fancy watching Hibs (they should be so lucky). But he might want to continue being, as Isner said, “an inspiration to all of us in the locker-room”.

If he does then we’ll be there for all the drama. But this will be his decision. And first he’ll take the emotion out of it.

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