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Andy Murray to channel Michael Jordan energy as Scot gears up for pain-free US Open return

Andy Murray to channel Michael Jordan energy as Scot gears up for pain-free US Open return (Image: GETTY)

Andy Murray will channel his inner Michael Jordan when he returns to the US Open for another Last Dance. The Scot will play his first Grand Slam singles match since the 2019 Australian Open against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in the first round on Tuesday.

The three-time Major champion has admitted he feared his career was over after his second hip operation before his long road back to New York.

NBA legend Jordan, who always played his best at Madison Square Garden, spoke of how he was motivated by perceived slights from opponents and management during a recent Netflix series.

Now Murray, 33, has revealed his real anger at a smug surgeon who wrote off his career – and only increased his determination to return to the top of the game.

“It’s been a long kind of journey to kind of get back to this point,” said the world No 134.

“There is one person in particular that helped me. It was the surgeon who told me after Wimbledon in 2017 that I didn’t have long left and you could have surgery – resurfacing or hip replacement – but you won’t play professional sport again.

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Andy Murray to channel Michael Jordan energy as Scot gears up for pain-free US Open return (Image: GETTY)

“It was weird timing, I actually bumped into him the morning after I had my hip resurfacing (in in London in January 2019) when I took my first steps on the new hip with the crutches.

“And he walked past me in the hallway and he smiled at me and said to my wife: ‘I told him he was going to have to do this.’ It just really got me. I was not happy.

“I would say that was the thing that gave me the biggest motivation because, at that moment, I had obviously been going through a difficult time, had the operation and I felt that there was a bit of smugness to what he told me.

“That was kind of enough for me. And, yeah, I was actually going to send him a bottle of wine to say thanks for the motivation once I had got back on the court competing again but I haven’t brought myself to do that yet.”

When Murray lost to Robert Bautista Agut in five emotional sets 20 months ago, Australian Open organisers played a farewell video with tributes from fellow top players to the visibly embarrassed five-time Melbourne finalist.

It proved to be a premature celebration. But the Scot had admitted before the tournament that he could not continue playing through the pain and could be forced to quit.

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Murray, who played three matches at the Western and Southern Open last week in his first tournament this year, added: “Now I actually don’t care people asking me about my hip because it feels fine.

“The worst part was when I was lying to people or not being totally honest because of the nature of sport because I didn’t want to say.

“That is why in Australia I was very upset because it was the first time I had spoken openly about it but had been struggling for a long time and trying to put a brave face on it.

“Certainly at the time, pre-surgery and post-surgery, no I didn’t think I would be able to come back. But with each with that passed and month that passed, I started to believe.

“I was a bit p***** off I wasn’t allowed to play singles at Wimbledon that year even though it was only a few months after I had the operation because actually I was feeling good physically in terms of no pain.

“It was probably not until I got back on the tour and played guys in singles that I actually really believed it.”

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Andy Murray to channel Michael Jordan energy as Scot gears up for pain-free US Open return (Image: GETTY)

Now Murray is back older, wiser – a little slower – but pain-free, his first Slam singles match without pain for over three years.

“Hopefully I’m going to compete at a Slam where I’m not worried about how I’m going to be, how my hip’s going to feel, things like that,” he continued.

“The last time that would have been was in the 2017 French Open. It’s a long time ago. I know I’ve played a couple of Slams since then, but that wasn’t really me on the court.

“Whereas now, I’m not as quick probably as I was before, but I’m able to go out there and compete and focus on the tennis.”

Murray added: “It’s been hard for sure.

“But since I managed to get back on the court and start competing again, I try not to think about my hip and the fact that it’s mental and things like that because I’m not feeling it that much right now when I’m playing.

“Hopefully I’m going to compete at a Slam where I’m not worried about how I’m going to be, how my hip’s going to feel, things like that.

“The last time that would have been was in the 2017 French Open. It’s a long time ago. I know I’ve played a couple of Slams since then, but that wasn’t really me on the court.

“Whereas now, I’m not as quick probably as I was before, but I’m able to go out there and compete and focus on the tennis, hopefully be able to last a five-set match without my performance seriously deteriorating as it goes on.

“It’s been tough to get to this point, a lot of hard work, lots of ups and downs. But I made it back. I’m just looking forward to getting to compete in a Slam again. It would be nice to go out there and get a win on Tuesday.”

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