21 June

Many happy returns Andy - a trip down memory lane

Yesterday Andy Murray made a triumphant return to to tennis, beating the top doubles seeds at Queen's. As we welcome back Britain's best player of the Open Era and look forward to the next stage of his career, here are Local Tennis Leagues' own memories of how Andy announced himself to the wider tennis audience

 

Andy had the answers

Andy Murray and NigelAlready a star and Britain's No 1, Andy captained Scotland in the second Aberdeen Cup in November 2006, a very friendly grudge match against England. Local Tennis Leagues' Nigel (then editing ACE Tennis magazine) got the chance to ask the great man some readers' questions. "He was so laid back it was hard to believe that it was only his second year on the Tour. He exuded star quality in a way that was almost intimidating, but at this event I also got see a little of the sweet, humorous Andy interacting with his extended family, all of whom had turned up to support him and his team. They hammered England that weekend!"

Pic rightt, Aberdeen cup Andy Tommy Hindley/Professional Sport

Andy at Superset Tennis, aged 17

It's October 2004 and just back from winning the US Open Junior finals, Andy is invited to take part in a new fast-paced exhibition format, Superset tennis at Wembley Arena. The details may be lost in the mists of time, but Andy's first touch of the ball was a standout moment. Facing John McEnroe who still packed a punch, in his opening mini match Andy took the great champion's very first serve and returned it for a scorching winner. He could not be serious! But oh yes he was. Andy had arrived. McEnroe eventually prevailed. "John told me at the net that I have a great future in the game. I told John that it was a great honour to be on the same court as him," Murray said at the time.

Falling like a tree

Say it quietly, but there has always been a little melodrama surrounding Andy's health and fitness. Spectators at Queen's in 2005 had an early example when Andy suddenly keeled over in a match against Sweden's Thomas Johansson. Cramp was the culprit but at the time it was genuinely alarming.

Beating Andy Roddick at Wimbledon in 2006

Where were you when Andy Murray announced himself to the world as a genuine Grand Slam contender? LTL's vivid memory is being trapped on a train from Edinburgh to London and listening on a tiny radio. There was an admitedly sympathetic - and predominantly Scottish audience - but the carriage was on the edge of its seat. Could Andy beat the former US Open Champion Andy Roddick? Roddick was to have his revenge a few year's later, knocking out Murray of Wimbledon in 2009. But this was a coming-of-age moment.

Tears for fears

It was the moment some wondered whether Andy might just have to settle for one Grand Slam title (the 2008 US Open) but it won over wavering hearts too... Andy had beaten Nadal to get to the 2010 Australian Open final but came up against Roger Federer and lost 6-3 6-4 7-6. In defeat, the emotions showed. Referring to Roger Federer's lachrymous reaction to losing to Rafa the previous year, a tearful Andy told us: "I can cry like Roger. It's just a shame I can't play like him." Time would prove him wrong.
 

And so it all began....

In the first part of his career, Andy won three Grand Slams, one Tour Finals, two Olympic Golds, a Davis Cup for Team GB and a total of 45 career titles. He has won BBC sports Personality of the Year three times as an individual and once as part of a team and has inspired a nation to get back on court. A Freeman of Stirling and of Merton and a Knight of the Realm, they paint letterboxes gold for him and put his image on stamps. And this is just the beginning. Andy is back.

Pic top Andy Murray at 2008 US Open by Charlie Cowins. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.