August 17, 2021
Andy Murray rolled back the years with a sparkling hardcourt display at the Western & Southern Open.
He defeated old rival Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-4 and lit up the arena with some stunning cross-court winners.
They were all the more impressive because Murray’s execution often came on the reach.
Lesser players would have given up those chases completely.
Instead Andy conjured his magic at the most unexpected times.
You wouldn’t have guessed Murray’s injury history as he threw off the shackles.
It was a joy for all tennis fans to behold.
The enthusiastic American crowd were equally uninhibited in their appreciation of an old master.
Gasquet played his part in a thrilling match but struggled to find answers to the onslaught.
The Frenchman hurt Murray at times with typical drop-shot artistry. Nevertheless the British favourite took control after saving early break points.
An impressive 14 aces helped keep Andy out of trouble and he looked in good shape.
Perhaps we will see Murray at Wimbledon 2022 after all!
If he can stay reasonably fit for the next year then there will be no reason for him to contemplate retirement just yet.
Murray could hardly contain his excitement after hitting 38 spectacular winners.
He said: ‘I thought I did well. I think I moved pretty well for my first singles match in a while on hard courts.’
And this victory avenged Andy’s defeat to Gasquet at the same venue two years ago.
Murray had an excuse that day. He pointed out: ‘It was the first singles match I’d played since having a new hip put in, so I was a bit apprehensive and he uses all the angles on court really well.’
There was no such apprehension this time as Andy became the aggressor.
He explained: ‘I got a lot of free points on my serve and thought I was taking control of the rallies when I had the opportunity. So it was a good match.’
Despite all the aces, Murray’s first serve will have to be even more consistent next time out because he landed only 55% of those.
But with that ace count in his armoury anything can happen.
Waiting over the net will be either ninth seed Hubert Hurkacz or Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.
Whatever happens in the next round, it was just awesome to see Andy firing on all cylinders again.
He had us worried when he pulled out of the Olympic singles.
Now he has reminded us why we can never write off Andy Murray.
Wimbledon 2022 is a realistic target for the popular Brit once more.
Will you be at the big one next summer?