Andy Murray and Ash Barty pay tribute to each other
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Andy Murray has been tipped to have a strong 2022 as he continues his comeback trail. The Brit was world No 1 when he began struggling with a hip injury and spent several years mostly on the sidelines, undergoing two hip surgeries. He started gaining momentum at the back-end of 2021, making two quarter-finals, and has now been set an “achievable goal” to climb up the rankings from his current world No 134 spot.
After starting the year with a positive Covid test and a groin injury, Murray has been able to enjoy some success, making the Wimbledon third round, beating two top ten players in Hubert Hurkacz and Jannik Sinner, pushing top youngsters Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev at the US Open and Indian Wells, and reaching two quarter-finals in Metz and Stockholm.
He has since made a change in his coaching team during the off-season, parting ways with Jamie Delgado after five-and-a-half years and taking on Jan De Witt for a trial period.
The German has travelled to Abu Dhabi with Murray, who is continuing his pre-season preparations at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, where he faces countryman Dan Evans for the chance to play Rafael Nadal in Friday’s semi-final.
As the three-time Grand Slam finalist continues his comeback ahead of the 2022 season, former world No 1 Mats Wilander has tipped Murray to return to the world’s top ten.
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“I actually think it’s an achievable goal [returning to the top 10]. I really do,” the retired player-turned-pundit told Eurosport.
“I actually think that throughout some of the last year or two, some of the criticism, [which] is always around when somebody who’s been a superstar of the game is out there struggling, pushed him.”
The seven-time Grand Slam champion, who himself has previously cast doubt over Murray’s comeback, thought the 34-year-old would be spurred on by his desire to prove a point.
Wilander continued: “I think he’s out to prove a point to himself that it’s not about number one in the world or winning Grand Slams.
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“It’s really about the day-to-day struggle and the day to day reward of when you’re practising to try to become better than yourself, better than yourself yesterday.
“I think that he’s out there, and I think he’s found the reason, and he is going to build more and more momentum.”
The Swede also fired a warning to Murray’s upcoming opponents next season, explaining the reason the former world No 1 would be able to beat them.
“Andy Murray has this ability to make his opponent a little bit worse,” Wilander said.
“First of all, it’s a sign of humility. It’s a sign of someone that actually knows himself that he has certain limitations as a player. And I think those players that know their own limitations are the ones that are the greatest players in the world.
“Andy Murray knows that there are players out there who have more power. They might have even a better feel. I don’t think they’re stronger in the gym, but they’re faster on the court, more explosive, and he knows that he needs to make them a little bit worse to be able to beat them.
“That’s a sign of humility. And it’s a sign of tennis IQ. The tennis IQ of Andy Murray is most probably at the top of tennis of all time.”
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