Andy Murray may be on his way home – and may be on his way to play Davis Cup in Glasgow the week after next – but left behind in New York is one very proud mum.
Judy Murray not only knows her son better than most people on the planet but, as a tennis coach, she knows his tennis better than anyone. And watching him fight for all he was worth for three-and-a-half hours against Fernando Verdasco was the most promising sign she had seen for more than a year. Her son is still a long way from his best but there were still glimpses of the old champion.
“I thought he was amazing, I thought he was absolutely incredible,” she said. “It’s something like his ninth match back and he just blew me away.
“The fight, you never lose that, that’s just within him and it’s still really early days. He’s rusty, but like I said to him, rust comes off if you polish it. Work hard and polish it, it will come off.
“I was blown away with how well he played, sometimes it was just like watching him where he’d always been. There were rusty bits as well but that’s completely understandable. I thought he moved great, I thought it was incredible, very encouraging.”
Sitting on the sidelines as Andy tried to find a cure for his hip problems, finally resorting to surgery, and then beginning the long journey back has not been easy. But Judy has been impressed by the professional attitude Andy has applied to every aspect of his recovery and to his dogged refusal to give up on his goal of getting back to the top.
“He’s been through a couple of longer-term injuries in the past and that’s probably helped him to deal with this,” she said. “It’s just that this one has been longer and it’s probably been longer because he tried to rehab it conservatively to start off with and then had the surgery. So, in hindsight, that may have cost him, or did cost him, an extra six months. But these are things you don’t know [at the time].
“He’s in incredible shape and that’s a testament to him doing everything that he possibly can and protecting what he currently can’t do.”
Being at home for the birth of his second daughter, Edie, and being around to see his young family grow has kept Andy sane and happy during the hardest parts of his recovery – “That’s been the silver lining of it all,” Judy said – with the end result that he is now beginning to look like the Andy Murray of old.
“The great thing is being able to watch him playing again because you know how much it means to him,” Judy said. “You need a mindset that says it’s a work in progress and these are all stepping stones to where he wants to be. You would never expect any player to come back in where they left off after everything that he’s been through, so I think every step’s been positive, so it’s all good.”