Tennis

Jose Mourinho praises Andy Murray’s comeback

By Rob Maul

JOSE MOURINHO says Andy Murray is the Special One of Tennis – after revealing he shed tears when the Brit first won Wimbledon.

And the former Chelsea and Man Utd boss reckons the former world No.1 is a stand-bearer of acceptable behaviour for bad-boy footballers.

Unemployed Mourinho was enjoying the sunshine at Queen’s yesterday to watch the penultimate day of the Fever-Tree Championship.

The 56-year-old spent time with Murray on the practice courts as he continued his comeback from a hip op – with hopes he can maybe return to singles later this year.

Mourinho is a big tennis fan and only lives around the corner in West London. He said: “I watched his training session, and then spoke about all the processes he has gone through.

“It has been hard. Of course, with his age, with his history, with everything he has already won, he needs to be really special, in love with the game, and ready to make the effort he is making to be back.

“If he can evolve to play singles again at the highest level that would be amazing.”

Murray, 32, won Wimbledon in 2013 – ending a 77-year curse for male tennis players – and then won a second singles crown in 2016.

Mourinho revealed: “I shed tears when Murray won Wimbledon first time.

“Because for these boys, Wimbledon, Roland Garros, these big tournaments are like the Champions League for us.

“We know what we feel when we do it, we know what we feel when we almost do it but don’t do it, and so I could imagine what it meant for him.

“It’s not just Wimbledon, it’s in London, the city where he lives, with all the meaning for the whole of the UK.

“I could imagine being in his skin, and understand all the feelings that he went through.

“So yes, I was a little more emotional than normal when he won.”

In his early years, Murray had a streak of petulance and would often scream and shout if things weren’t going right on court.

However, in later years he has become one of Britain’s leading sportsmen, receiving a knighthood and winning the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award three times.

Mourinho said: “I’d love all the football players to cope with responsibilities the way these tennis guys do it.

“In football you can hide behind each other. If I am the centre-back, maybe it’s the goalkeeper’s fault. If I am a striker, and I don’t score goals, maybe it’s the winger that is not giving me enough crosses.

“But in tennis they can’t hide behind anyway. It’s them on court, one against one.”

Joe Salisbury, who grew up in Putney, will play in the men’s doubles final today after he and partner Rajeev Ram beat American brothers Mike and Bob Bryan 7-6 7-6 in the semi-finals.

Andy Murray will play in the men’s doubles final today as he chases a first ATP tournament title since the Dubai Open in March 2017.

The Scot, 32, and Spaniard Feliciano Lopez incredibly beat doubles specialists Finn Henri Kontinen and Australian John Peers 7-5 6-7 10-7 in the semi-finals — only five minutes before the gloom descended on Centre Court.

Punters were amazed by the endurance of marathon man Lopez, who had been on court for three straight matches spread over almost five hours.

Lopez, 37, will play the singles final against Frenchman Gilles Simon before the doubles match can take place against fellow Brit Joe Salisbury and American Rajeev Ram in the final.

Murray said: “It was a good match. We obviously had some chances to finish it in the second set.

“I played a bad service game, but an unbelievable effort from Feli.

“He has played a lot of tennis, and he is not young anymore.

“He played brilliantly and deserves this. I am happy to be in the final.”

Lopez said: “I don’t really know how my body is. Of course, I am tired, I haven’t played much, I was injured since the beginning of the year and didn’t play for six months. My body feels sore but ready for the final.”

 

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Charles Bennet

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