At around 4am local time in Melbourne last night, Andy Murray won the longest match of his career to date. At thirty-five years of age, he was playing against an Australian nine years younger in Thanasi Kokkinakis. They spent 5 hours and 45 minutes on court, only a few minutes behind the longest ever final of all time at this tournament between Djokovic and Nadal. Over the last four years, Murray has been plagued by injuries. He has two two major hip operations (he now plays with his replacement metal hip) and, this time three years ago, he was foreshadowing his retirement. The Australian Open put together a montage, with it looking almost certain that the Scot's time was up and this was his last Australian Open, and possibly his last Grand Slam. As I caught the final moments of yesterday's match, watching Murray hobbling around through that final set, I - like many others - thought it was a miracle that he was still playing, let alone slugging it out for this many hours given his prior injuries. More astonishing yet, Murray had been two sets down in the match. He has now done that 11 times in his career, which is a record. And his on-court interview was a memorable one. "I have a big heart", he uttered, after the incredulous interviewer asked him how on earth he did it. Murray went on to say: "I'm aware I don't like particularly happy when I'm playing a lot of the time... but that's when I'm at my happiest on the inside." And full of emotion after sharing these words: "I've always loved competing, I've always worn my heart on my sleeve and shown my emotions when I've played and... I've been criticised a lot for it over the years, but... that's who I am." A big heart, leaving everything out there, showing his emotions and letting himself be who he is. If that's not aspirational, I'm not sure what is. — Jas Hothi is a writing coach & author.
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