Two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray flirted with disaster on Monday evening on Centre Court. The former World No. 1 led 24th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-3, 5-0, putting himself on the verge of a berth into the second round at the grass-court major. But that advantage rapidly disappeared.
Suddenly, Basilashvili won seven consecutive games to force a fourth set and the momentum was fully on the Georgian’s side. Would the Scot be able to physically and mentally recover from that letdown? Like he has throughout his career, Murray fought back. It is the same trait that has helped him return from his latest hip surgery of 2019, and it is that resilience that carried him to a four-set triumph against Basilashvili.
“I didn’t deal with the pressure well at the end of the third set. But having to come back out and try and win a match, having just lost seven games in a row from 5-Love up on Centre Court, a lot of players would have capitulated there, and I did the opposite of that,” Murray said. “There is pressure in that moment as well. When you’re starting the fourth set, having just lost seven games on the spin, the headlines of that [would have been that] you have choked… and it’s one of the worst defeats of your career.
“[That is] what you would have heard after that match had I lost. [It] is not easy to turn that around.”
Murray Escapes Basilashvili To Make Winning Return At Wimbledon
Murray’s battling spirit was apparent, and it was not something new. Tennis fans have seen it throughout the 34-year-old’s career. But where did he learn to compete as well as he does?
“I was just exposed to competition from a very young age with my brother and then with tennis and playing sports,” Murray said. “There was that element of winning and losing, elements of [that in] pretty much everything I was doing as my hobbies or in my spare time.
“Whether that was playing football or tennis, golf, whatever, I was always playing games and always competing. I have enjoyed playing board games and that sort of stuff. [I have] just done it loads since I was a kid, so I just had a lot of exposure to it it just comes quite naturally.”
After the match, Murray had plenty of emotions. The Scot was thrilled to win, and he was even in a joking mood after disclosing that he used the restroom during the break after the third set — Murray made sure to note it was a “No. 1” — when the roof was closed. But most noticeably, the three-time Grand Slam winner made clear that he is here to stay.
“I can still play at the highest level”
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) June 28, 2021
“I keep getting asked is this going to be my last Wimbledon, last match? I don’t know why I keep getting asked about it,” Murray said on court. “No, I’m going to keep playing. I want to play… I can still play at the highest level. He’s ranked 28th in the world and I haven’t hardly played any matches and I beat him.”
It was a memorable match for Murray, who enjoyed the loud crowd on Centre Court, which helped push him through despite his hiccup.
“I realised the past 18 months not to take moments like that for granted. Enjoy those things that we love doing,” Murray said. “I think everyone was into it today. It was a really good atmosphere, and it didn’t feel like the crowd was half full.”