Andy Murray and the Old School rebel against their fate in Canada | Sports

While Novak Djokovic lifted the Knights' Cup for the third time and made history in Paris when, on the same Sunday in June, the male player with the most Grand Slams in history (23) became Andy Murray (36 years old and 40th in the rankings). classification ATP) also lifted a title: competitor From Surbiton Turf, Class 5 Championship. The contrast is very stark, even more so when, until not so long ago, the Scot was also winning Grand Slam tournaments (Wimbledon and the US Open) and topping the world tennis rankings. A horrific hip injury forced Murray to retire and start over from scratch, but he wasn't the only one getting down in the mud to play in the big leagues again. Injuries also led to Gael Monfils (36 years old and No. 276 in the league). classification) to fight in His competitors And Milos Raonic (32 years old, 545th in the rankings) retains invitations to participate in tournaments to compete with the best again. That was the case in Toronto, where Murray, Monfils and Raonic meet in the round of 16.

“I hope I can find the motivation again to continue training and improve. Motivation plays a big role in this. Losing several times in the first rounds does not help. I do not plan to stop now.” The Scot, who since returning to action in 2021 with an artificial hip joint, has accepted his new reality. Where he went from playing the final rounds to having to collect points and feelings in the above. His competitors: “I wish I had dropped this category sooner and I wish I had played more at this level,” Murray affirmed after beating both. His competitors Before Wimbledon.

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The fact that top players have to play in these lower level tournaments, often due to injuries, has always been seen as a symptom of decline and loss of play. But nothing could be further from the truth, for within these categories several categories appear Top 100 Who do not want to lose their rhythm and prefer to gain confidence over the course of a week rather than give up in every first round of the ATP 250 or 500 tournaments. Gael Monfils, one of the great surprises of the Canadian Masters 1000, has also got through these tournaments.

The Frenchman's condition dates back to an ankle injury that occurred just one year ago. Just when he seemed to be experiencing a second youthful period, finishing 20th in the world rankings, Monfils injured his ankle and missed the rest of the season. Since then, he has battled himself and injuries to continue being that athletic, resilient player. Victories will not accompany him in 2023, but at Roland Garros he allowed himself praise. On his home soil and in front of his fans, Monfils defeated the Argentine Baez in five sets in the first round of the Parisian giant in a match that ended at one o’clock in the morning, with the Frenchman convulsing and rising from 0-4 in the last set. Despite the passing years, he always excels in tennis through jumping and games. This does not change Monfils, who, after defeating Tsitsipas (6-4, 6-3), will fight this morning against Australian Vucic for a place among the top eight in the Canadian Championship.

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Raonic's luck was worse, as he spent the entire year of 2022 without playing any official match, burdened by his Achilles heel with four small tears and the idea of ​​retirement hanging around his head. It did not pass through His competitors Thanks to the protected rating number, which allows long-term sufferers to participate in tournaments of their choice, since they did not have any ATP points. Without losing his essence and great services, Milos wants to extend his good feelings in his homeland and will face American McDonald to qualify for the quarter-finals.

Stanislas Wawrinka is not competing in this tournament, but he deserves a special mention as he is one of the tennis players who cannot accept quitting the sport he loves. The three-time Grand Slam champion (Roland Garros, Australian Open and US Open) and ranked 49th was emotional after falling in the Umag final last July and losing the chance to win a title after six years: “I know it's stupid to cry, but I love this sport and you make it special.” Although he no longer has the level of yesterday, the Swiss maintains his serve and his powerful forehands are present on the ring.

Wawrinka's tears, Murray's screams, Monfils' jumps or Raonic's serves are scenes of four successful campaigns that are getting closer and closer to the end. They fight for every point, trying to delay the natural process of a tennis player's life as much as possible. Retirement seems closer and closer but their love and pride prevent them from giving up the racket.

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Amber Cross

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