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‘I don’t want it to be my last Wimbledon’ – Andy Murray prepares for SW19 return against player facing domestic abuse charges


Murray will return to Wimbledon singles after a four-year absence (Picture: AFP via Getty)

Andy Murray will make his first appearance in singles at Wimbledon in four years on Monday when he takes on 24th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili.

In his last appearance in the main draw, Murray was world No. 1. Now he arrives, with a wildcard, ranked 118 places lower in the ATP rankings.

Curiously enough, he was beaten by 24th seed Sam Querrey – hobbling out of a five sets quarter-final in 2017 – in his last match and he will start this year’s Championships against 24th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Between the two matches, Murray has battled to save his career. He tearfully retired at the 2019 Australian Open only to undergo a hip resurfacing operation to keep his slim hopes of playing alive.

Remarkably, he has since won an ATP title, beating fellow three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka in the final in Antwerp in the same year he went under the knife.

Murray hobbled out of Wimbledon 2017 (Picture: CameraSport via Getty)

That may prove to be as good as it gets. Murray has since struggled for fitness and form, while the Covid pandemic also wiped out precious months in the latter stages of his career.

He has admitted that every time he steps on court, he is painfully aware that it could be his last appearance but still he hopes this is not farewell to his favourite tournament.

‘I mean I don’t want it to be my last Wimbledon,’ said Murray. ‘That’s not my plan.

‘Like I’m not going into Wimbledon thinking I’m saying goodbye. I want to keep going and I want to keep playing. But obviously I don’t know.

‘If I got a significant injury or whatever, then yeah that would obviously change things. But I guess that’s the case with most players when they get into their sort of mid 30s.

‘I’m still planning on playing for as long as I can so I hope that’s not the case.’

Murray has swerved the most dangerous names in the early rounds of his draw and will begin against Basilashvili – a player who has only reached the third round here once.

Should Murray win on Monday, a qualifier will await him in round two before a potential third-round tie with 10th seed Denis Shapovalov.

Murray will return to the All England Club (Picture: AFP via Getty)

Murray is aware that grass is not the strongest surface for many players currently in the game and remains confident he can still do well here, particularly after dragging himself to the quarter-finals four years ago with a busted hip.

‘Yeah, I mean, that’s something that when you speak to my team and stuff about that Wimbledon, we laugh about it today,’ added Murray. ‘Because I don’t know how I did that.

‘I would have beaten Querrey in that match as well, but with each kind of minute that passed, I was feeling worse. I think I told you guys at the time when I got off the court and saw my wife, usually I’m devastated after losing at Wimbledon. I was just so happy that’s over.

‘I just wasn’t enjoying it and with each set, each match, it was just getting worse and worse. That was one of my better achievements – to make the quarters that year and get close to the semis. Probably one of the reasons why I still feel like I can do well.’

He added: ‘I’ve always preferred the courts at Wimbledon. Even though I’ve played well at Queen’s and they’ve got great courts, it’s always a little bit quicker.

‘The courts at Wimbledon tend to be a bit slightly slower as well and I practised on them in the build-up to Queen’s; so the courts at Wimbledon I like a lot. So yeah, I think I can do well.

‘I don’t think there are that many guys who are unbelievably comfortable on the grass – so that plays in my favour.’

This will be a first meeting with Basilashvili, who boasts a huge forehand and a win over Roger Federer this season.

Basilashvili faces serious charges (Picture: Getty)

He does, however, arrive into this match with a legal case hanging over his head. He has been charged with assaulting his ex-wife. Basilashvili inisists the allegations are ‘false and totally unsubstantiated.’

Murray has previously called for the ATP Tour to create a domestic abuse policy, with world No. 6 Alexander Zverev another with allegations attached to his name.

Of Zverev’s case, Murray said in November: ‘Obviously tennis doesn’t have a domestic abuse policy. That is something we as a sport should be looking into, so the ATP know what to do in that situation, rather than having to think and react to it.

‘They can be a bit more proactive in a situation like that. They need to take it extremely seriously and see what comes of it in the coming months.’



British singles ties at Wimbledon 2021

Jack Draper vs Novak Djokovic
Liam Broady vs Marco Cecchinato
Dan Evans vs Feliciano Lopez
Andy Murray vs Nikoloz Basilashvili
Jay Clarke vs Egor Gerasimov
Cam Norrie vs Lucas Pouille
Heather Watson vs Kristie Ahn
Emma Raducanu vs Vitalia Diatchenko
Katie Boulter vs Danielle Lao
Johanna Konta vs Katerina Siniakova
Samantha Murray Sharan vs Sorana Cirstea
Fran Jones vs Coco Gauff
Harriet Dart vs Elise Mertens
Jodie Burrage vs Lauren Davis
Katie Swan vs Madison Keys

Murray will be joined in the men’s and women’s singles by an army of Brits – with a range of opponents awaiting them in the main draw.

The toughest ask falls to wildcard Jack Draper. His first main draw match at the All England Club comes against top seed Novak Djokovic – who is chasing a third consecutive Wimbledon title. As Djokovic is defending champion, they will open Centre Court’s play on Monday at 1.30pm.

Fran Jones – who has six fingers and seven toes – will take on teenage prodigy Coco Gauff, who reached the fourth round on her last appearance at the All England Club, while Katie Swan meets former US Open runner-up Madison Keys. Harriet Dart is another facing a seed, with Belgian 13th seed Elise Mertens awaiting her.

Seeded male players Dan Evans and Cam Norrie will both take on former quarter-finalists in the form of veteran Spaniard Feliciano Lopez and France’s Lucas Pouille.

Emma Raducanu faces Russian qualifier Vitalia Diatchenko – who once shocked former champion Maria Sharapova in the first round – while Johanna Konta is on course for a third-round meeting with world No. 1 Ash Barty, if she comes past Katerina Siniakova in her tournament opener.

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