Fresh from winning the doubles title at Queen’s, three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray made a short and bittersweet stop in Eastbourne this week for the second consecutive year.
Despite a first-round loss to top seeds Cabal and Farah, Murray – who was playing alongside doubles specialist Marcelo Melo – was in a much better place than he was when he came to play the Nature Valley International one year ago during his singles comeback after struggling with a hip injury.
Eastbourne was again just the second tournament of a comeback from injury this year, but this time Murray came to play on the doubles court, pain-free and full of confidence following a hip resurfacing surgery just months ago, and a successful comeback at the Fever-Tree Championships which saw him lift the trophy alongside Feliciano Lopez.
With Murray finally looking like his old self on court again, his one doubles match with Melo may well have been his last here in Eastbourne and, if it was, the crowd gave him a rousing, memorable send-off.
Centre court was packed on Tuesday evening, with everyone wanting to see a happy, healthy Murray, after a slightly more disheartening experience during his two matches against Stan Wawrinka and Kyle Edmund last year.
Even though Murray and Melo lost, everyone on the court was showing their support. There were giggles when the pair communicated their planned movements before points and roars every time Murray hit a winner, and right up until the end nobody stopped being vocal in their support of the pair.
Whilst it didn’t go unnoticed that Murray’s serve was often broken, his shot selection was almost as good as it was when he was world number one and it looked clear that his innate ability to know how to play each point never left him even during a difficult couple of years.
Now that Murray is already winning titles again, it’s clear this comeback will be different than the last and that poses the question, was this his last hurrah in Eastbourne?
Who knows where he’ll be in a year’s time, maybe back lifting even bigger trophies on the singles court again, and the ATP250 warmup tournament may fall out of his pre-Wimbledon routine, but if this was his last time, everyone definitely made the most of having Andy Murray here in Eastbourne