Why Andy Murray refuses to believe his glory days are over

Many of our game’s champions share one common trait, they boast an unshakable self-belief that separates them from the rest. That might explain why Andy Murray believes he can win Wimbledon once again this summer.

From the evidence served up on court over the last year, his dream appears to be forlorn, but Murray is refusing to accept that he may have sipped from the winners’ cup for the final time.

A succession of defeats in recent weeks have come just after a handful of thrilling performances over the last year, like his marathon wins at the US Open and Australian Open in the last two Grand Slams, which seem to have fueled his desires to continue.

Yet with Murray preparing to toast his 36th birthday this month, retirement appears to be on the horizon and while speculation is rife, many in the game share a similar disdain for seeing the form of one of the modern game’s all-time-greats decline.

Murray’s latest defeat by Italian qualifier Andrea Vavassori in the opening round of the Madrid Open highlighted how far off the pace he is on clay courts, with that loss coming just two weeks after a woeful display against Alex De Minaur in Monte Carlo.

“It was awful,” conceded Murray, after a loss that saw him apologise to the bemused fans looking on. “Nothing was good about it. I don’t know exactly why that was.

“I didn’t do anything well, didn’t serve well, return well, forehands, backhands, shot selection.

“I’ve had a few matches in my career that were pretty bad, but in terms of how I felt on the court, it was right up there, across the board.

“I was feeling optimistic coming into the clay season. My body was feeling good the last 10 days or so, considering I’ve not played much on it.

“I was feeling strong and I’d actually been moving pretty well in practice, so I was optimistic. But it was pretty demoralising and I’ve not felt like that many times in my career on the court. It was really tough.”

With a metal hip holding him together after years of wear and tear on court, Murray may be alone in believing he could revive his glory days, but his sentiments could not be clearer.

When asked whether he would play the French Open later this month or abandon the clay court season and turn his attention to his favoured grass courts, Murray’s answer confirmed quitting is not at the forefront of his mind.

“Whilst I feel fit and healthy, I would like to give it a go, but I also have ambitions of competing for Wimbledon titles,” he declared.

“I know that sitting here today that probably doesn’t sound realistic, but I do believe that that’s a possibility.”

It is remarkable for a player who has achieved so much in the game to still have the desire to chase more when faced with such unenviable odds.

Murray seems unrelenting in his efforts to get ahead of the doubters, having just entered a second tier ATP Challenger event in France this week.

But why is Murray making the effort to play in a tournament staged in Aix-en-Provence?

For a player who has been world No.1, claimed two Wimbledon titles, lifted the US Open trophy, won two Olympic Gold medals and guided Great Britain to a Davis Cup title, the prospect of playing lower tier events likely don’t appeal, however may feel necessary at this worrying stage.

He is aiming to scramble enough ATP ranking points to get among the top 32 seeds for Wimbledon, as he believes that will offer him a chance to get into the second week at the All England Club.

The truth may be that the ultimate heroes find retirement even more galling and that is likely the case for the greatest British sporting champion of all-time.