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Andy Murray And Feliciano Lopez Win Queen’s Tennis • Fever-Tree • Wrap Report On An Amazing Event 2019

Britain's Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez of Spain lift the championship trophy after winning their mens doubles final against Britain's Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram at the Fever Tree Championship at Queen's Club in London, Britain, 23 June 2019. EPA-EFE/WILL OLIVER

 

By Alix Ramsay

 

Joy is a funny thing. It strikes in different ways. It can come from the most unexpected sources and it can hit you when you are not looking.

 

When Andy Murray won his first grand slam trophy after a gruelling five-set US Open final with Novak Djokovic, those of us who had watched try, and fail tearfully, in four previous big finals thought that he would be ecstatic. Jumping for joy, even. But he just looked gobsmacked. Yes, he was happy but, basically, he was just stunned. Blimey. I’ve done it. Or words to that effect.

 

And then, seven years later, he played a first round doubles match with Feli Lopez and he was delighted. He couldn’t hide it and everyone cheered it: he was having the time of his life.

 

Now, after four matches with F-Lo, he is the new doubles champion of the Fever-Tree Championships at Queen’s Club. The two old friends – and Muzza’s new tin hip – beat Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 7-6, 5-7, 10-5. This time, Muzz did jump for joy (presumably he still has the warranty document for that new hip) and he hugged F-Lo as if he were a long, lost member of his immediate family. Blimey. We’ve done it. Or words to that effect.

 

“Look, this is very different for me and it’s more special than a lot of the singles tournaments that I have won for a lot of different reasons,” Muzz, the winner of three grand slams amongst his 45 career singles titles, said.

 

“I just won the doubles here with Feli with a metal hip. It’s mental, really. That’s a cool thing to be able to have done, and yeah, just because of probably where I was a few months ago. And at times, even as far as just two months ago, I just wasn’t thinking about this. It was not something that was, like, I was not driven to get back to playing here and stuff.

 

“I was just really, really happy just to be pain-free and enjoying life, literally just doing normal things. So it’s really special.”

Britain's Andy Murray (R) returns during his mens doubles final match with Feliciano Lopez of Spain against Britain's Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram at the Fever Tree Championship at Queen's Club in London, Britain, 23 June 2019. The tournament runs from 17th June till 23 June 2019. EPA-EFE/WILL OLIVER

So special, in fact, that now Muzz is talking in more detail about his singles comeback. At the start of the week, he had offered the thought that he may – or may not – get back to the singles beat towards the end of the year. The US Open would probably be too soon, this year may be too soon – he did not know.

 

He still does not know, not until he has tried the specific training and practice that goes into singles play. But he may, just may, contemplate a return this summer.

 

“I’m really not bothered about it,” he said. “If it happens in September or next year or in six weeks, really, I really don’t mind. Genuinely I do not mind.

 

“If I keep progressing, I would like to try to play singles. I think I have a couple of options: after Wimbledon, either I continue with doubles but start training and practicing singles through the US Open swing, and then try and maybe play singles after that. Or I take a longer break post-Wimbledon of maybe, let’s say, a month or six weeks to get myself ready for singles and then try and play close to the US Open time.

 

“But I’m just quite happy doing what I’m doing just now and just taking each week as it comes. If things keep going well, I’ll try and play singles. If I start training and I think actually I’m not going to compete at a level I’m happy with [then no].

 

“And I know in Australia [when he announced that he needed surgery and that his career was possibly over] I didn’t anticipate playing doubles, but I also didn’t anticipate feeling like this and enjoying playing tennis like this, either. We’ll see what happens.”

 

He also didn’t anticipate the same nerves and competitive fire returning so quickly. When he first had his hip op, he was just happy to be able to do the normal things in life, those things that a young father of two very young daughters wants to do. And when he left Australia, he was getting nothing back from playing the sport he loved: it hurt like hell as he prepared for matches, it hurt like hell when he played matches and it hurt like for days after he recovered from matches.

 

So when he started his Queen’s campaign this year, he just wanted to see what it would be like. And as the week wore on, he got more nervous – those pre-match butterflies – and he realised that his old instincts were kicking in. But it was fun.

 

“I got so much enjoyment and happiness after winning a first-round doubles match here that that’s enough,” the mellow yet still ultra-competitive Muzz said. “I don’t have to be getting to the US Open this year and be really competitive and have to win the tournament for me to enjoy it. It would be nice, but I really don’t mind.

 

“So I’m going to go at my own pace and hopefully I keep progressing, but I’m sure at some stage it will come: a bit of a plateau. Because it’s been very quick and constant improvements just now, but I still have to improve quite a few things physically.

 

“It’s not just to get back on the court playing singles. It’s to protect my hip for the longer term. So it’s not just about this week or next week. I want it to last for a long time, because it’s nice feeling like this.”

 

That F-Lo could stand, much less win his second final of the day, was a miracle. After being on court for the best part of five hours on Saturday (one singles semi-final, one last bit of a doubles quarter-final followed rapidly by a doubles semi-final), he put in a six-hour shift, more or less, on Sunday.

Spain's Feliciano Lopez in action against Gilles Simon of France during their final match at the Fever Tree Championship at Queen's Club in London, Britain, 23 June 2019. EPA-EFE/WILL OLIVER

It took him two hours and 49 minutes to beat Gilles Simon and win the singles trophy 6-2, 6-7, 7-6 followed by another 20 minutes or so of faffing around with the presentation ceremony, on-court interviews and TV flash quotes.

 

There was then a 40 minute break for the crowd to refuel with more Pimms (this was on the advice of Mr. Lopez who instructed the crowd to stay where they were and not go anywhere – other than the bar – because he was coming back) and then back F-Lo did come back with Muzz for a one hour, 51 minute doubles final.

 

The poor bloke was running on fumes but he didn’t care: he had just become a double champion at Queen’s. Tomorrow he could worry about seizing up.

 

“How tired am I? Well, I think you can imagine,” F-lo said. “I was very tired [after the singles], of course, but I still have energy enough to go and play the doubles.

 

“It’s incredible. It’s tough to believe, actually. I won this tournament in 2017. That was the best win of my career. And then I did it again two years after, and then I won the doubles half an hour after.

 

“So it’s tough to believe, honestly. It’s something that might never happen again. I’m so happy, and I just don’t believe everything that happened during the week. I don’t know. I need more time to reflect on everything that happened this week.”

 

Joy comes in many forms. For F-Lo it was the feeling of creaking out of Queen’s Club on Sunday night, not knowing whether his 37-year-old body would be able to get out bed the next morning. For Muzz it was the thought that in a couple of days he could well be taking a pasting in a first round doubles match in Eastbourne. But at least he could play.

 

Let the joy be unconfined.

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