Andy Murray admits he would find HIMSELF 'irritating to work with'

‘I’ve been a pest on the road back to glory’: Andy Murray admits he would find HIMSELF ‘irritating to work with’ if he was a coach as he reflects on emotional European Open triumph

  • In January, it seemed Andy Murray was on the verge of retirement in Australia 
  • Ten months later, the 32-year-old is a title winner on the ATP Tour once again
  • Murray won the European Open after a thrilling win against Stan Wawrinka
  • The Briton revealed he has taken inspiration from ice hockey star Ed Jovanovski
  • He was also named in Great Britain’s Davis Cup squad for the finals next month  

Andy Murray admits that he can be both a ‘pain’ and a ‘pest’ to those he works alongside.

Yet he also argues that his more annoying traits are inextricably woven into the attributes that have seen him pull off a near miraculous comeback in 2019.

In the wake of Sunday’s remarkable triumph in the European Open final he gave a fascinating insight into both his mindset and the excruciating physical regime that made his emotional title success possible at the weekend.

Andy Murray poses with the winning trophy at the European Open in Antwerp on Sunday 

This included him, following his press conference, lying on the floor and demonstrating to a small handful of reporters of his most torturous exercises of the past eight months. It was accompanied by the confession that he is finding his habit of constantly jabbering and gesticulating at his support bench almost impossible to kick.

‘I know I’m a pain to work with but at the same time when I’ve been asked to do something I do it and I don’t skip days,’ he said. ‘I haven’t come in and told the guys I don’t want to go to the gym today or I don’t want to go on the court.’

Of his constant dialogue with his support team, which continues into his 33rd year, he conceded: ‘It’s something I wish I didn’t do. But that’s what I was saying, in terms of being a pain, that’s obviously irritating to work with and I would find that annoying as well if I was coaching. I would want to just say ‘Shut up!’ But it’s something that I have struggled to change over the years. 

Murray was visibly emotional following the three-set victory against Stanislas Wawrinka

‘On the other side I do try and do everything that they tell me and I ask tonnes of questions. So I don’t know. Like would you rather have someone being a pest on the court but fighting for every point and working as hard as they can, or someone who is not trying hard and not doing what they’re saying?’

It takes someone special to go from being written off and barely able to walk to winning a singles title in barely six months.

‘It sounds like nothing but at the beginning you can’t put your shoes and socks on yourself,’ he said, before bending over from a sitting position.

‘So I was literally having to sit in a chair and try to touch the ground. At the beginning I was like ‘f***!’. Then you come back and then you go over a little bit and it’s like ‘Aarrgh!’. Every single day you chip away and you go a millimetre, or a centimetre further, and eventually over time you get there.’

He then laid down flat on his side on the floor, illustrating how it was initially been impossible to open his legs upwards: ‘The first day I was doing it, it (the hip) doesn’t move. My brain is telling it to move. 

‘And I found that to be the most tiring thing mentally. I was just trying to move my leg but these muscles were just totally switched off. Doing it every single day, you feel a bit sorry for yourself at times.’

Murray was keen to acknowledge the skill and sound advice of his London surgeon, Sara Muirhead-Allwood, and revealed that a major source of inspiration had been Canadian ice hockey star Ed Jovanovski.

It has been a remarkable resurgence in the past few months from the three-time major winner 

‘I spoke to Ed, who had the operation and he got back to playing in the NHL after 8 months and he told me that the rehab was hard but that his hip was brilliant at the end of it. 

‘The reason why he didn’t continue playing for longer is that he was 39 at the time and he had other issues. So I knew that if I did it properly I might have a chance, I just didn’t know if it was going to work out for me or not.’

Murray was named in the Great Britain team for next week’s Davis Cup finals in Madrid on Monday alongside Dan Evans, brother Jamie and Neal Skupski, with either Kyle Edmund or Cam Norrie to be added by Captain Leon Smith.

That will be his next appearance, and all of a sudden the GB team look a decent outside bet to win the 18-team competition in its new one week format.

Murray is reluctant to put a limit on what he might achieve next year, but what can be said for certain is that his ageing main rivals are unlikely to improve, unlike the genuine new contender, Daniil Medvedev. 

He looks the one young player to have emerged during the Scot’s sporadic absences who is already a real threat.

Murray will return to Davis Cup duty next month, an event he won with Great Britain in 2015

The exciting prospect is that Murray can clearly get better from where he is now. Notably his forehand lacks the punch of when he was at his peak, and his second serve can get more penetration. In technical terms, he looks a little like where he was before the hiring of Ivan Lendl at the beginning of 2012.

There is another dimension to this as well. Murray is aware that he has become a role model for ordinary folk afflicted by hip issues: ‘I have got tons of messages from people who have had the operation asking me questions about it and telling me how well they have done with it, and how it’s changed their lives. 

‘Without what she (the surgeon) did, I wouldn’t be playing again, so I probably have her to thank more than anyone.’

If only he had met her when this all started in mid-2017. Precious time has been wasted, but we should now be able to discover what can still be achieved as he heads towards his mid thirties, not old for a tennis player these days.

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