After ending a six-month drought with a much-needed victory in Rotterdam on Monday night, Andy Murry told reporters that “I feel like I am playing for my career just now”. He also hit back at social-media commenters who have been telling him he should retire.
“Why should I stop because I lost a match last week against someone [Egor Gerasimov] that people would expect me to win against?” Murray said. “Tell me a good reason for why I should stop playing. I can still compete with the best players in the world with one hip. I think that’s quite amusing really.”
Murray also explained that he now keeps no social-media apps on his phone, having deleted Instagram last week. But he added that the decision was not the direct result of all the negative comments about his recent quality of play.
Rather, it was because he had watched last year’s influential Netflix film The Social Dilemma, which has persuaded many people that their daily existence would be more pleasant without Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the rest.
“I don’t have Twitter on my phone and I deleted Instagram last week,” he said. “Not because of that [the retirement comments]. You see those things on Instagram and social media if you’re on it, obviously, and if you have the app on your phone. But I’d watched a while ago that Social Dilemma movie.
“I thought it was brilliant and then a couple of days after my match last week, I watched an interview with all the people that were responsible for making that and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m done.’”
Murray’s hard-earned 2-6, 7-6, 6-3 win over his Dutch contemporary Robin Haase on Monday felt significant. Because, despite a run to the final of last month’s Biella Challenger, Murray had gone six months at tour level without a win.
His last victory at the top tier of the game had come against Yoshito Nishioka at the US Open on August 31. In the meantime, he had suffered two heavy losses at the slams (to Felix Auger Aliassime and Stan Wawrinka), as well as last week’s unexpected reverse against world No83 Gerasimov.
On Monday night, Murray told reporters that he has found things “a bit of a struggle” since he developed Covid-19 in early January. But he still believes that he can gather momentum with a decent run of matches, and is in no mood to listen to the critics.
“Every time I lose a match I’m getting told to retire,” Murray explained. “That I should stop playing, that I’m finished and got nothing left or whatever. And it’s sad and all of these things. It’s not easy.
“I feel like I’m playing for my career just now, each time I step on the court, which is a motivation in some ways, but it also adds a bit of extra stress. There’s a bit of extra doubt there and on top of that I’m playing with a metal hip, which is hard.
“Trust me, it’s not easy. So it’s a big challenge for me just now and one that I’ll meet head on, but it’s not easy just now. The last few months have been a bit of a struggle.”
Asked if he felt the need to prove his critics wrong, Murray said “I don’t need to prove it. I beat [Alexander] Zverev and the following week he was in the final of the US Open. I know I can play at that level. I just need to do it consistently and I need to stay fit for a period of time.
“My skill hasn’t changed. You can ask the guys I practised with, unless all of them are holding back against me and feel sorry for me. Let’s see what happens the rest of this week and over the next few months.”
Murray will do well to make further progress in Rotterdam if – as expected – he plays fourth seed Andrey Rublev in the second round. (Rublev first has to face the USA’s Marcos Giron on Tuesday.) But his overall determination is supported by his faith that his body is over the worst of its troubles.
“I know physically I’m in a better place that I was at the end of 2019,” Murray said, “from all of the results I have from the gym work and stuff. When I finished in Antwerp in 2019 [where he won his 46th ATP event] I felt good physically and then the next time I got on the court I had an issue with my groin and it took ages for that to get better.
“Physically I feel good just now now, but you don’t know what’s round the corner and that’s the thing I’ve been more anxious and apprehensive about than my tennis. I have done a lot of really good work off the court and hopefully that will start to translate into my performances. I believe that, and that’s what my team believe as well.”