Andy Murray, whose comeback has stalled in tempo with his sport, has “a few Wimbledons left in him yet”, according to Tim Henman.
Henman, who reached four semi-finals there and is an influential board member at the All England Club, which cancelled the 134th championships because of coronavirus, said Murray, 33 next month, may benefit from a rest.
“I saw him practice a few weeks ago when it looked as if there might be a chance to go to Miami [on 25 March, after the cancellation of Indian Wells],” Henman said. “After being out of the game as long as he has, and now with the progress he has made, he will be pretty frustrated because he is getting close to getting back out on the court.
“He has missed so much tennis but perhaps [the break] will give him the opportunity – if his body and his hip enable him – to play longer, in age terms. I remember playing with Agassi after Andre had 18 months out, for very different reasons, but he came back fresh and invigorated to play. He kept going until he was 36.
“In those days that was old for a top tennis player. I stopped when I was 33 and that was pretty old at the time. But with training techniques and injury prevention, players are certainly playing longer. So you would like to think that if Andy’s body permits and he still has the motivation that I think he does there can still definitely be a few Wimbledons left in him yet.”
Henman said he had spoken to Roger Federer, who had planned to make his comeback at Wimbledon after knee surgery, and reckoned the eight-times champion, at 38, would be similarly frustrated, with dwindling opportunities left to add to his 20 majors. “Someone like Federer, coming to the end of his career, is devastated but understands the decision. It will affect a lot of people in a lot of different ways.”
Henman is particularly concerned the disruption will hit low-ranked players hardest. “Further down the pecking order this will have huge implications where people are not going to have an income.”
He also added his voice to those of the outgoing All England Club chief executive, Richard Lewis, and the relatively new ATP chairman, Andrea Gaudenzi, who fear there is a possibility the 2020 calendar may be wiped out entirely. “You have got to be positive and optimistic that [the US Open in August] can be played but, if it weren’t, I don’t think anyone would be greatly surprised,” Henman said.
The game’s next big event may be the second ATP Cup, where Henman made a confident debut as the Great Britain coach at the start of the year, leading them to the quarter-finals. “If I were asked to do it again, schedule permitting, I would definitely do it because it was a lot of fun,” he said.
“If you had said a month ago the next event was going to be the ATP Cup in Australia in January, I think people would have looked at you a bit strangely. But the world is a very, very different place right now.”