From Paul Eddison in Tokyo
Andy Murray has two Olympic gold medals to his name and is a two-time Wimbledon champion, but a medal of any colour in Tokyo would be the greatest achievement of his career.
That is the view of the man himself, who is hopeful that the hip injury that has blighted his career almost since his Rio title, will not affect him in Tokyo.
The fact that Murray is even in Japan is remarkable after the much-talked about surgeries that would have signalled the end for most high-level sportsmen.
And while he admits he enters the competition as an outsider, the competitive spirit within the 34-year-old remains as strong as ever.
"That’s the goal to try and win another medal. I’m aware that it’s not going to be easy and I’m also in a slightly different position to the one I was in four or five years ago when I would have been expected to get one, it’s maybe not the case this time around," said Murray, whose matches will be live on Eurosport and discovery+.
“That would be probably my best achievement if I could do that after everything that has gone on the last few years. I’m motivated for that reason alone, I still believe that I can do that, I still believe it’s possible.
“There have been difficult moments in the last few months and the last year with the injury but right now, this is the healthiest I’ve been for the longest period in the last year. I’ve gotten practice way more than I had been in the build-up to Wimbledon and everything so I’m getting better, I’m improving and hopefully that stays that way until the end here.”
An unforgettable tennis match! 🎾
Relive the moment @andy_murray became the first tennis player to win back-to-back Olympic golds, after defending his men's singles title against @delpotrojuan at Rio 2016. 🥇🥇#StrongerTogether pic.twitter.com/jrRCmAddiS
— Olympics (@Olympics) July 13, 2021
As well as the injuries, a drop down the rankings has meant that Murray faces a daunting draw in both the singles and the men’s doubles.
After his defeat to Canada’s Denis Shapovalov at Wimbledon, it is another Canadian young gun in his way in the opening round in Tokyo, 20-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime – one of the sport’s brightest prospects, ranked 15th in the world.
In the doubles, Murray and Joe Salisbury face the vastly experienced French pair of Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert, winners of five Grand Slam titles and the number two seeds.
For some, that might have felt like a body blow, but Murray chose to look at the positive side of it, knowing that if he gets past Auger-Aliassime, there is a potential path through to a possible quarter-final against world number two Daniil Medvedev.
Murray added: “It’s going to be hard. They aren’t easy draws in either (singles or doubles) but if you want to win medals, you’re going to have beat top players and because of my ranking I have to play higher-ranked players earlier in the tournament, so mentally I’ve prepared for that.
“Obviously if you can get through a top player early, that can open the draw up a little bit. They are certainly not easy first matches but I can also win those matches so we’ll see what happens.”
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