Jamie Murray would love to see his brother Andy back on a tennis court, but his main hope is for the 31-year-old to be able to live without pain.
Andy was due to fly home on Wednesday as he considers whether to struggle on ahead of a farewell appearance at Wimbledon this summer or undergo a second, more serious, hip operation that could either salvage his career or end it.
Andy hinted after his emotional five-set loss to Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday that surgery was the more likely option, and Jamie appeared to confirm that.
The 32-year-old, who is due to begin his doubles campaign on Thursday, said: “He’s obviously got to go and do his surgery, which is a pretty big surgery to get.
“I just hope that, whatever happens, he can get back to just regular life, pain-free, and be able to enjoy himself and not be in constant pain. If he’s able to come back and play tennis, if that’s what he wants to do, then I’m sure he’ll give it everything he can.
“I obviously haven’t been there day by day watching him go through what he has gone through because I have been continuing playing on the tour.
“But I know obviously, surgeries, so many other things he has tried to do in order to get back and get feeling good. I can’t imagine how much of a toll that would take on you mentally probably more than anything. So it has been a long road for him and I think he just needed an end result one way or another.”
One of the signs that Monday was a special occasion was the presence in his player box of Jamie. The brothers rarely watch each other live because they find it too stressful, and Jamie did not appear to enjoy the experience.
“I was OK actually,” he said. “He got a great reception coming on court, great atmosphere, especially once he broke back in the third set. He was obviously fighting really hard.
“I knew how difficult it was for him because of the pain he’s in and also the frustration of not being able to play to the level that he’s used to or expects of himself. Like he said on the court, if it does happen to be the last time he plays here, it’s a great way for him to go out and show everyone what a fighter he is.”
Jamie found the big-screen montage of Murray’s fellow players saying their goodbyes a little awkward, adding: “It was a little bit odd but I understand why tournaments do that because if he doesn’t come back then they want to give him a send-off and show their appreciation for what he has done.”
Jamie picked out their Davis Cup doubles appearances together in Glasgow, particularly the semi-final against Australia in 2015, as the highlights of a shared journey that began in the modest surroundings of Dunblane’s tennis club.
He said: “It is an amazing story. We’ve come from a small town in Scotland, 8,000 people max. Our mum obviously tried to do what she could to create opportunities for us and for the other players, first at Dunblane and then on a more national level. Our parents made incredible sacrifices for us.
“But to go from that to getting to the top of the game and winning grand slams, he did 11 grand slam finals, it’s incredible really. Helping us to win Davis Cup for the first time in however many years. I’m sure he’ll go down as a legend in this sport.”
Jamie, meanwhile, echoed Andy’s frustration about a failure by British tennis as a whole to capitalise on the Scot’s success in terms of growing the game.
Jamie said: “My greatest worry was that he would stop one day, which obviously feels like it’s been probably accelerated, and you would look around the country and there wouldn’t be much to show for it.
“And if you go around the country you probably see that. And that is sad because how on earth are you going to grow a sport if you can’t do it when you’ve got one of the biggest stars in tennis for the last 10 years, and one of Britain’s most prominent sportspeople?”
Mother Judy was also courtside on Monday, and she told newspaper reporters: “I’m just so proud of what he did out there, given the discomfort that he’s in. I was just blown away by what he did and yet I shouldn’t have been blown away because that’s just who he is.
“I hope that perhaps he finally realises how loved and respected and appreciated he is. I think there were every bit as many tributes about his character as his tennis. For any parent, that’s an amazing thing.
“Whatever he decides, I’ll be right behind him, because quality of life, of course, is massive and he’s got two little kids. He must enjoy life in the long term but you just get the sense that there’s something else in him, that he’s not quite ready to quit yet.”
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