Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Neil Drysdale: A salute to Andy Murray, ol’ metal hip, who lit up the winter with his feats in Melbourne

A stunning view of Rod Laver Arena at sunset in Melbourne. Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images
A stunning view of Rod Laver Arena at sunset in Melbourne. Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

The big chill struck Scotland with a vengeance last week. If it wasn’t snow and ice, it was the dark mornings and dank post-festive period when credit card bills arrive in the mail and New Year resolutions are a fleeting memory.

Thank heavens then for the Herculean efforts of Andy Murray at the Australian Open in Melbourne, where he spent more than 14 hours on court over the course of three matches reminding us why he is a truly great competitor and an even better human being, even as he transcended any arguments about his place in the sport.

This was the same venue where the injury-stricken Scot announced he was quitting tennis in 2019 and there were many who believed he would be forced to retire at just 31.

Yet, fuelled by his relentless drive, determination and boosted by advances in medical science, Murray not only returned to the domain which has brought him so much success in the last 15 years, but demonstrated he is still a force to be reckoned with.

The fire still burns brightly in Andy Murray.

Andy Murray in Herculean feat at Australian Open

In recent events, he has occasionally managed to produce occasional slivers of his derring-do and myriad qualities which earned him three major titles and a brace of Olympic gold medals – but it was usually followed by a crash back to earth when he strove to prepare for another tussle in the next day or two.

That was one of the inevitable consequences of the 35-year-old having a metal hip and being, by his own admission, just one more injury away from retirement.

There were even critics among the TV pundits who argued he shouldn’t be given wildcards to ranking events and burbled it was time for youngsters to take his place at the top table.

Well, he’s not budging – and why on earth should he when he is such an international box-office smash?

Indeed, you could conclude that Murray has rescued the Melbourne tournament from developing into a procession of leading seeds being eliminated without proving they really deserved their top billing in the first place.


And he has also re-ignited the whole issue of why this event expects players, officials, spectators and ballboys and girls – he went into battle on their behalf – to stay on court or in their seats until such ridiculous times in the morning.

Ol’ Metal Hip meets Ol’ Blue Eyes

Frank Sinatra sang the famous lines: “It’s quarter to three, there’s no one in the place except you and me” in One for My Baby (And One More for the Road).

But even Ol’ Blue Eyes might have been chucked out of the bar by the stage Murray finally defeated Thanasi Kokkinakis in their second-round epic which didn’t finish until after 4am in Melbourne, and which left both players embracing each other like two knackered gladiators.

Prior to his astonishing Lazarus-style recovery from two sets down, late-night closing seemed the last of Murray’s problems.

Yet, that is one of the most remarkable aspects of Murray’s gloriously thrawn personality; namely, that if he has to curse himself and scream blue murder at his box, pump his fists, break a racquet or six and work himself into a maelstrom of pent-up fury, he will willingly put himself through the wringer.

Andy Murray has won Wimbledon on two occasions.

It has always been this way. Because the Scot has never been frightened of hard graft, or avoiding any kind of comfort zone.

Even as a teenager, he could have hung around in Blighty and enjoyed the spotlight of being the best youngster in his homeland.

Instead, he moved to Spain and methodically transformed himself into a champion.

Heaven knows, he doesn’t need the money and he doesn’t chase newspaper headlines for their own sake.

But, as Kokkinakis discovered, he adheres to the words in Dylan Thomas’ famous poem. Not for him the easy option of going “gentle into that good night”. Instead, this redoubtable individual wants to “rage, rage against the dying of the light” and if that means physical and mental discomfort, he can handle it by now.

Could Andy Murray challenge for another Slam?

It may be true, as John McEnroe has claimed, that Murray would have beaten Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round, rather than eventually succumb to a four-set defeat, if his marathon confrontation with Kokkinakis hadn’t lasted as long as Wagner’s Ring Cycle – or the two Avatar movies screened back-to-back – and the Scot may have to pursue quicker victories to progress to the later stages of these Grand Slam events.

But, whether in disposing of No 13 seed Matteo Berrettini in another classic encounter or seeing off Kokkinakis, Murray has shown us he can still be a contender and, who knows, a credible challenger when Wimbledon and the US Open arrive in the summer.

He said on social media on Saturday: “Two days ago, I randomly bumped into the doctor who in 2017 told me: ‘The good news is that the problem you have in your hip can be fixed, but you won’t be able to play professional sport again.’

“I think we dispelled that myth (during) the last five days.”


He certainly did, while transporting some of the resplendent Aussie sunshine to a dreich Aberdeen landscape. And though he eventually bowed out, it was appropriate it was to somebody with the surname Agut.

After all, Murray has been busting that for the last two decades!