Tennis-Wawrinka clash revives painful memories for Murray

  • Tennis
  • Friday, 24 May 2024

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - June 9, 2017 Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka hugs Great Britain’s Andy Murray as he celebrates winning his semi final match Reuters / Christian Hartmann/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - Andy Murray's heavyweight first-round clash against Stan Wawrinka at the French Open will revive memories of a gruelling semi-final battle from which his crumbling hip never recovered.

The three-time Grand Slam champions slugged out a five-setter on the red clay in 2017 with Wawrinka eventually prevailing to set up a clash with Rafa Nadal.

It was a brutal encounter with Murray struggling physically at times and he recalled the clash on Friday as he prepared for what is likely to be his last appearance at the French Open.

"I remember in the quarter-final against (Kai) Nishikori feeling that something wasn't right," the 37-year-old, who has recovered from an ankle injury to make Paris, told reporters.

"I had had issues with my hip for a really long time and had lost multiple matches from two sets to one up.

"I remember during that match, during the fifth set, I began to feel like I couldn't move. I remember I couldn't sleep that night, my hip was so painful, laying on the sofa in loads of pain and I never recovered."

"After that match I couldn't extend my leg properly behind me any more after that match. Yeah, it was a shame."

Former world number one Murray went on to surrender his Wimbledon crown a few weeks later in a quarter-final loss to Sam Querrey in which his hip injury flared again.

Murray, who reached the French Open final in 2016, underwent hip surgery in 2018 and then had more complicated hip re-surfacing surgery in 2019 in a bid to extend his career.

While he has shown flashes of the brilliant form that once made him a member of the "big four", the past few years have been a struggle and he arrives in Paris ranked 75, still higher than the 97th spot Wawrinka holds.

"I've competed against him in some of the biggest tournaments and big matches over the years and it's incredible he is still competing at 39 years of age," Murray said.

"It's a pleasure to play against him in another Slam."

Murray, who has stated that he is unlikely to play beyond the summer, holds a 13-9 record over Switzerland's Wawrinka who he will face on the tournament's opening day on Sunday.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)

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