Andy Murray begins his US Open today with one of the stiffest tasks he could have had, taking on world No.3 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in round one.
It is a match that Murray in his pre-metal hip pomp would have relished, the chance to put one of the young guns in their place, the opportunity to show who’s boss.
Things have changed for Murray in the past few years, the insertion of metal into his right hip in early 2019 altering his life, for the better, but also presenting him with the biggest challenge of his career.
Just getting back on to court that summer was a near miracle and in the two years since, he has experienced more downs than ups, more disappointment and frustration than he would have hoped as his body has refused to play ball.
When Murray moved his pre-tournament media time from Friday to Saturday, there were rumblings around Flushing Meadows; was something wrong? 
But Murray duly took to the court for a practice session instead and when he did speak to the world’s media 24 hours later than planned, he talked optimistically about his fitness and his physical strength.
For the first time in two years, Murray feels able to play tournaments without pulling up with another niggling injury. What is annoying him now is his tennis, with five wins and five losses on the year, two of the wins coming at Wimbledon, and a ranking sitting just outside the world’s top 100. 
“Physically I’ve been good since I’ve been here, in the matches,” Murray said. “That was also the case through Wimbledon, as well. I was a little bit fatigued towards the end of Wimbledon because of the longer matches that I played in the first couple of rounds, having not played for a while.
“Over here in the matches, my body’s been good. I pulled up well the following days after them. That for me has been really positive.
“But I would obviously like my game to be in a better place. Sometimes you don’t feel like you’re playing particularly well, but I’ve had opportunities in my matches against top players in the last few weeks and not quite taken them. Maybe if I do, I’d maybe be sitting here with a slightly different take on things. I’d like to be playing and doing better.”
That is the perfectionist in Murray, the man who turned every stone, poured every ounce of sweat into his bid to be the world’s best, and achieved so much. The fact he is still out there competing shows he retains his drive.
Tsitsipas, though, presents him with another problem; a young, supremely confident, enormously talented player who is on the cusp of his first Grand Slam title.
The Greek was one set away from winning Roland Garros before the real Novak Djokovic stood up and he has won two titles and 48 matches in 2021.
Former world No.1 John McEnroe said last week that it is hard to watch Murray at the moment, knowing how good he is, how much he still wants it, but how difficult things are.
“I admire his tenacity,” McEnroe said on an ESPN call. “I feel for him, wanting to play so bad, go out on his terms, seemingly how difficult that is for him. I hope he can get over the hump and be healthy. He’s 100 in the world right now. That’s not where Andy Murray should be.  
“Sometimes you’ve got to battle through some serious adversity, like he’s had to. I hope he comes out the other side.”  
Tsitsipas, though, knows what Murray is capable of and will not be lulled into thinking that he will have it easy against an old-timer with a gammy hip.
“He’s someone that has been putting a lot of work to get back and has been playing very good tennis to be standing where he’s at right now,” Tsitsipas said.
“I think I’m going to go for it, try my chances against him. He’s someone that won’t give up. I’ll have to bring some good tennis from my side.”