Andy Murray defeated Stan Wawrinka 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Sunday to win the European Open title, his first since returning from hip surgery earlier this year.
The victory is just the latest incredible accomplishment for Murray in his improbable comeback from his January hip surgery that saved his career.
Murray Overcomes Stellar Wawrinka in Three-Set Epic
Prior to his decision to undergo the procedure, Murray announced that he was likely to retire after Wimbledon due to chronic pain that had plagued him in recent years. Even after the surgery, he thought there was a strong possibility that he would only be able to play doubles, something he did successfully this summer.
Murray found that, with the pain gone and his mobility better than expected, singles play might still be possible. And while he struggled at first – even playing in some Challenger-level events to work his way back into shape – his performance at the European Open proved he may still be a world-class player.
“It means a lot,” an emotional Murray said after the match. “The last few years have been extremely difficult. Me and Stan have had a lot of injury problems in the last couple of years. Amazing to be back playing against him in a final like that.”
The win was anything but easy for Murray. Wawrinka played at a high level from the opening game, and looked like he might be too much for the resurgent Murray in the first set, hitting incredible winners from defensive positions to win points again and again.
Wawrinka looked to be in control of the match after he went up a break to take a 3-1 lead in the second set. But Murray held firm, and his trademark defense started to turn the tide. In the final set, both players struggled to hold serve, each breaking twice early on, before Murray held late and then broke one last time to clinch the match.
ATP Finals Standings Largely Unchanged
The win gave Murray his first title since a triumph at the Dubai Championship in March 2017. It also moved Murray up 116 spots in the ATP rankings. He currently sits at 127th in the world after a very light schedule of singles play this year.
Of course, that ranking doesn’t reflect the ability Murray has shown in recent weeks, and tennis officials in Great Britain appear to agree. Murray has been chosen to play as part of the British team in the Davis Cup Finals next month. For Britain, that will begin with group stage matches against the Netherlands and Kazakhstan.
While the European Open results were thrilling for tennis fans, they had little impact on qualification for the Nitto ATP Finals standings. The biggest mover was Wawrinka, who jumped to 15th after reaching the European Open final. The Swiss veteran is still 705 points behind Matteo Berrettini for the eighth and final spot in London.
With only two weeks left in qualification, several players will be looking to pick up points for the ATP Finals race. Berrettini, Gael Monfils, and Diego Schwartzman are among the top seeds at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, while Alexander Zverev, Roberto Bautista Agut, Fabio Fognini, David Goffin, and Wawrinka are all playing in Basel. Both are 500-level events, with enough points on offer to shuffle the ATP Finals bubble standings before the Paris Masters.