TV View: Andy Murray is the Arsenal of tennis - or maybe the Duracell bunny

Murray and his metal hip made a stunning comeback in a Melbourne marathon that lasted nearly six hours

Sport’s gas. No word of a lie, there were Arsenal devotees known to this here couch who, just a year-ish ago, vowed to totally, completely and utterly eliminate football from their lives because it was only bringing them pain. Now? God almighty, they can’t get enough of it.

There’s a lesson here for all of us, no matter our sporting hue: there’s always hope. Even if you have a metal hip.

“Two days ago I randomly bumped into the doctor who, in 2017, told me: ‘The good news is the problem you have in your hip can be fixed – but you won’t be able to play professional sport again’. I think we dispelled that myth the last five days.”

Andy Murray certainly did that, him being kind of the Arsenal of tennis – just when you assumed himself and themselves had forgotten how to win.

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If you’d planned one afternoon last week to, say, tentatively enter the press under the sink with the intention of discovering what was in there and, after recoiling at the sight of a Cif bottle whose expiry date read March 1976, clearing it out, then Andy’s epic battle with Thanasi Kokkinakis was no help at all.

Press under sink forgotten, Andy v Thanasi was a tussle for the ages.

It’s four in the morning, he’s got to have a shower, have a rub-down, he’s got to go and do press, he might as well go and have breakfast – and then go to bed. It’s craaaaazy

—  Jo Durie

Eurosport’s Simon Reed suggested that anyone who’d watched all five hours, 45 minutes of the contest was a bit sad, which was a touch belittling, him and Jo Durie concluding that tennis matches can just be too long.

It wasn’t an unreasonable observation, Andy and his metal hip playing around 14 hours of tennis in Melbourne in less than a week – so the next time you hear a football manager complain about two sets of 90 minutes in seven days, tell them to hush.

By the time Andy beat Thanasi, the birds were waking from their slumber in their Melbourne nests. “It’s four o’clock in the morning, he’s got to have a shower, have a rub-down, he’s got to go and do press, he might as well go and have breakfast – and then go to bed,” said Jo. “It’s craaaaazy.”

It was. But it was bloody marvellous.

There was a time – hands up – when this couch found Andy to be highly objectionable, which no doubt worried him greatly. It was the sourness and dourness wot dun it. But then he dared to reveal his personality, which most tennis players avoid doing, and since then he has been the love of this couch’s life.

So, no matter what sporting joys 2023 bequeaths us, it’ll do well to top Andy’s comeback against Thanasi, along with Judy Murray hanging in there in the stands to support her lad despite it being past four in the morning when the sleep was threatening to slay her.

“Did Tiger Woods have to play golf at two in the morning? Did Lewis Hamilton have to drive at two in the morning? No. It’s ridiculous,” said a decidedly peeved Jo.

No more peeved than Andy when he was told he’d used up his toilet breaks so he’d have to cross his legs and think of Bannockburn for the remainder of the tussle.

That he did, prevailing in the end. Did we mention this was a battle for the ages?

And instead of being allowed head straight for bed, he had to do an on-court interview with John Fitzgerald.

Andy: “I’m aware that I don’t look particularly happy when I’m playing, but that’s when I’m at my happiest on the inside.”

John: “You sure are a strange guy sometimes, Andy.”

Andy: “My wife says that.”

And then he departed the scene to have his eight blisters drained, leaving us to conclude that whatever tennis players earn, it isn’t enough.

He lost in the next round, to Roberto Bautista Agut, but the man’s a ledge, which Mikel Arteta will, of course, be too, if he does the improbable: lead Arsenal to their first Premier League title since, roughly, 1853.

Roy Keane, in fairness, didn’t want to lay the blame for United’s defeat at any particular set of toes. Although he did say “Wan-Bissaka?!” His eyes crunching, like he was telling Tommy Tiernan about similar catastrophes, such as his first date.

“The ball’s not his friend,” said Jamie Redknapp, which was a far kinder take on Aaron’s display.

Arsenal? Their love-in with the ball shows no sign of abating. It’s weirder these sporting times are getting.