Kyle Edmund described Andy Murray as Britain’s greatest ever player and “maybe Britain’s best sportsman ever” as the tennis world paid tribute to the Scot following news of his impending retirement.
Edmund, who succeeded Murray as British No 1 last year, is one of a number of players who credit him with having played a significant role in their development. Murray regularly practised with Edmund and invited him to join his pre-season training camps on three occasions.
“He’s been my biggest role model out of any tennis player,” Edmund said here at the Australian Open. “He’s Britain’s greatest tennis player ever and you could say maybe Britain’s best sportsman ever.
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“To be able to have had the experiences that I’ve had with him and memories in terms of training with him and getting to know him personally and seeing what he’s done on the court and achieved, he’s definitely helped my career.”
Edmund added: “I learned a lot from him. He’s been my greatest role model in terms of tennis. I always watched him, I always liked to talk tennis with him, pick his brains and see what he did on the practice court and how he’s got to where he is.”
Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, another player who has been grateful for Murray’s support, said on Twitter: “”You took me under your wing as soon as I got on tour, and to this day you have been someone I literally just look forward to seeing.
“You’re one crazy tennis player, miles better than me, but I just want you to know that today isn’t only a sad day for you and your team, it’s a sad day for the sport and for everyone you’ve had an impact on.”
Rafael Nadal described Murray as “a great athlete and person”. The Spaniard added: “You don’t know how much we are going to miss you.”
Ivan Lendl, who was Murray’s coach in many of his finest moments, said: “As Andy looks to wind down over the coming months the world of tennis will lose a great competitor, but he will leave a measure of true grit that we all can learn from.
“Andy always left it all out on the court and I will look back with great feelings about the years we worked together. They were a lot of fun and filled with excitement. I am honoured to have been part of his team and to have been able to help him achieve as many of his lofty goals as possible.”
Johanna Konta said what had impressed her most about Murray was how he had worked so hard on his physical strength after fears in his early days on the professional tour that his fitness might be an issue.
“I feel like he really maximised everything that he has and left no stone unturned to bring the best out of himself,” Konta said. “That’s something as an athlete to look up to. It makes me quite emotional because that’s a beautiful thing.”
The British No 1 said she could not imagine the sport without Murray. “He has just been there all the time,” she said. “If he is unable to retire on his own terms and is forced to retire I think that’s something which no athlete wants to be put through, so everyone will have a lot of compassion and a lot of sadness for him if he has been put into that position.”
Murray said that next week’s tournament, which starts here on Monday, might be his last, but Andy Roddick was among those who expressed the hope that the former world No 1 would be able to bow out at Wimbledon this summer.
“He deserves his moment to say goodbye at Wimbledon,” the American said on Twitter. “He’s too important to Great Britain and Wimbledon history to not have it.”
Roddick suggested that it would be “a pretty cool moment” if Murray could play doubles at the All England Club with his brother, Jamie, if he was unable to play singles. Roddick described Murray as an “absolute legend” and one of the best tacticians in history.
Juan Martin del Potro, whose own career has been repeatedly dogged by injury setbacks, also took to Twitter to urge Murray to continue: “Please don’t stop trying. Keep fighting. I can imagine your pain and sadness. I hope you can overcome this. You deserve to retire on your own terms, whenever that happens. We love you Andy Murray and we want to see you happy and doing well.”
Among others reacting on Twitter, Kim Clijsters said her heart had broken listening to Murray’s press conference. “Hope he will make it through to Wimbledon and have the farewell he deserves,” she said.
Paul Annacone, who coached Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Tim Henman, found Murray’s news “gut-wrenching”. He said: “It is an athlete’s goal to retire on their own terms. That’s been stolen from him.”
Billie Jean King, who has regularly praised Murray for his support for women’s tennis, said he was “a champion on and off the court”. She added: “Your greatest impact on the world may be yet to come. Your voice for equality will inspire future generations.”
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