‘He’s a legend of the sport’: Tim Henman, Rafa Nadal and Simona Halep pay tribute to Andy Murray

The Independent

Tim Henman believes Andy Murray should have no regrets when his playing career is over. The 31-year-old’s Australian Open first-round match here on Monday against Roberto Bautista Agut might be his last after he revealed on Friday that he had decided to retire at some stage this year because of continuing pain from his injured hip.

“When you look at the list of his achievements, starting with three Grand Slams, two Olympic golds and finishing world No 1, there are no greater goals you can achieve in our sport,” Henman told the BBC.

“He has worked incredibly hard and, having seen that at pretty close quarters, his development from someone who joined us at Davis Cup as a 16-year-old and the way his game has progressed and the way he has matured physically and mentally, it has been incredible to watch. I know he will be immensely proud of those achievements, even though he will be disappointed at the moment.”

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Henman said he had not been surprised by the news of Murray’s impending retirement. “With the amount of work he’s been doing, and we know how professional and diligent he is, 20 months [since he was injured] is a long time,” Henman said.

“Obviously, with the nature of the injury, there are a lot of people who have felt this was going to happen at some stage. But it is still so sad to see him so upset before the Australian Open and obviously hearing he is still playing with pain.”

Rafael Nadal was among a number of players here who were asked for their reaction to the news about Murray. Nadal said he had known him since they played under-13 and under-14 tournaments together. “When he was a kid, he was little bit of a bad boy,” Nadal said with a smile.

“I always had a good relationship with him. We shared moments in my academy. We shared moments playing some exhibitions all around the world. We shared courts in the most important stadiums in the world, competing for the most important things. That’s impossible to forget.

“He has a good fighting spirit. He has been a hard worker. It’s not nice to finish like this because it’s great when you finish when you want to finish, not because of something else.

“Overall, when he puts everything in the balance, it will be the positive things that outweigh the negative things, even if the end is probably not the way that he dreamed about.”

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Nadal added: “When you are going on court every day without a clear goal because you cannot move well and you have pain, then that is a moment to take a decision. He has probably been fighting to keep going for a long time. If he doesn’t feel that things can go better, he is probably doing the right thing for his mental health.”

Alexander Zverev described Murray “as one of the funniest and coolest dudes out there”, while Nick Kyrgios said he was one of his closest friends on the tour.

“He’s a legend and someone that everyone could relate to, especially myself,” Kyrgios said. “He’s a normal person. When I hung out with him, he was funny. He didn’t take himself too seriously. Every time I hung around him, I felt comfortable around him.

“He kind of felt like he was 20. He was a little bit immature at times. He was so friendly, humble, down-to-earth. Just a normal guy. He’s a legend of the sport, but I never saw it like that.”

Simona Halep said she had had a knot in her stomach when she heard Murray’s news. “I always admired him,” the world No 1 said. “He’s a great person. He’s a little bit crazy on court, but I like that because I’m similar. He did everything he could. He worked so hard in the gym as well. It’s really sad.”

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