PENNY for the thoughts last week of the Australian Open organisers as they watched a resurgent Andy Murray bounding on to the court at Queen’s Club and playing with the sort of energy, freedom and fun that suggest this may not be just a fleeting comeback.

It was in stark contrast to the scenes in Melbourne in January when an already tearful Murray was virtually forced to turn his head towards the big screen as peers, colleagues and friends paid him glowing and heartfelt tributes as he headed into retirement. Or so they had been told. It was almost as if it had been decided for Murray that he would be hanging up his racquet whether he wanted to or not.

At no point had the former world No.1 actually said it was definitely the end of the road. Granted, he had hinted there was a chance he may have to call it a day due to the troubling, excruciating discomfort in his hips, plus the need for surgery if he were to have any chance of continuing. There were life decisions as well as career decisions to be considered.

But the Australian Open – and the rest of the tennis-watching world – should really have known better. It never seemed likely that Murray would simply fade into retirement without at least giving it one last crack. He has committed so much to tennis and is too much of a battler not to give it a go.

One successful bout of surgery later and here we are. Murray is sensibly taking it easy to begin with, only playing doubles at Queen’s, Eastbourne and then again at Wimbledon, but, hopefully without jinxing it, the early signs look positive. He seems to be moving freely and, perhaps more importantly, enjoying himself.

In a recent interview he made clear that latter point would mean as much to him as winning more silverware or moving up the world rankings. So driven in the first phase of his tennis life by succeeding or by a fear of failing, the Scot admitted it wasn’t always fun. He would travel all around the world and see none of it. The pressure to perform outweighed anything else.

Now in his second coming, he has taken on a fresh perspective. Perhaps having endured the dark days when he thought he would never step on to a court again, he has now made a promise to himself to make the most of this unlikely fresh opportunity.

That is not to say that Murray will start playing exhibition trick shots or simply shrug it off whenever he loses. His competitive streak won’t tolerate that.

But hopefully this married father of two young daughters with millions in the bank can find a happy medium where he realises that tennis is no longer the be all and end all. That some things matter more than work. Not everyone gets to enjoy a mid-career epiphany and hopefully it in some ways frees Murray mentally and he goes on to add a successful coda to what has been an already stellar career.

“I’ll just keep pushing and see how it goes, but I feel optimistic about the future,” he said after his comeback at Queen’s. “I don’t know how long it will take to get to [his former] level but hopefully not too long.”

The country needs him, too. In a week of unrelenting political misery and the frustration of the football team’s exit from the World Cup, Murray’s return to the fray has helped put a smile on Scottish faces once more. The huge positive reaction right across social media to him simply turning up to play in a doubles tournament of little consequence told its own story.

Murray’s exploits over the past decade and a half have helped lift the spirits of a nation that has savoured every major milestone with the sort of pride usually reserved for family members. Murray matters so much to British, but in particular, Scottish life. There would be a vacuum there if he had simply called it a day at the start of the year.

Now, should his return continue to run smoothly, the 32-year-old may be around for a few more years yet, hopefully to dictate his eventual transition to retirement on his terms.

There might be a few awkward smiles and embarrassed handshakes should he return to Melbourne next January.

TALKING of second chances…David Turnbull’s transfer to Celtic has been an odd and tumultuous affair. As the episode took one dramatic turn after another, it became difficult to gauge just who was winning the increasingly public exchange of words between the player’s agent and the club.

Turnbull, through no fault of his own, was labelled greedy for holding out for more money, with Celtic also coming in for criticism from some of their fans for again being parsimonious with their budget.

In the end, how Turnbull arrived at the club and what he is being paid will only become an issue if he struggles to make an impact. Should he continue in the same vein as he finished the season with Motherwell then the protracted negotiations will all be quickly forgotten about.