SO farewell then, Andy Murray, Scotland's modern-day sporting patron saint. It’s been emotional. Sports journalism in this day and age isn’t always a picnic – it still beats working down the mines – but where some of us have really lucked out in the last decade or so is in having the good fortune to follow this phenomenal young man around the globe. Herald Sport has been there since the start, often providing me a coveted courtside seat to witness Scotland’s greatest ever sportsman creating his legend. Even if he has also been single-handedly responsible for the top five busiest and more stressful days of my working life.

Simply re-writing the record books of Scottish and British sport wasn’t enough for a man like Murray, though. In his down time, he carved out a niche as one of this nation’s foremost philanthropists, feminists, animal rights campaigners and even independence backers. When his pal Ross Hutchins was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, he promptly made the Queen's Club tournament into an impromptu pro-celebrity event, while he was dutifully raising cash through his Andy Murray Live event at a time when his hip problems had long since kicked in.

But let's stick with the sport. Yesterday was a day many of us have dreaded, a day when the overwhelming temptation was to wallow in mawkish sentimentality about a glorious career cut short before its prime. As recently as July 2016, after all, in the immediate afterglow of that imperious march through the draw to capture Wimbledon for a second time, the Scot seemed to be just getting started. He was typically forthright when I asked him if he had a number in his head for Grand Slam titles which he would be happy with. “I haven’t got a number,” he said. “But if I were to put a number on it, I’d set it high. Rather than saying I’d like to win four and then I win five, I’d prefer to aim for 20 and end up winning six. It’s better to set the bar high and miss out on your target.”

Barring something remarkable at this fortnight’s Australian Open and this summer’s Wimbledon – assuming he makes it there without going in for a hip re-surfacing – the figure will remain stuck on three for all time, but that quote says it all about Murray, because no stone has been unturned in pursuit of more. Throw in two Olympic gold medals, enlisting the help of his brother Jamie to lead Great Britain to historic Davis Cup glory, numerous other tour titles and unprecedented charge to sit top of the ATP world rankings in London in November 2016, and it has been quite a ride. By making it big from a small town in Scotland, a country with little or no playing pedigree in the sport, not least a school where he had to huddle under a table as a crazed gunman went on a killing spree, Murray has re-defined what is possible. In no particular order, here’s five of my personal favourites.

LATE NIGHT DRAMA IN THE CITY WHICH NEVER SLEEPS. Start spreading the news: Andy Murray is a Grand Slam champion. It had already been quite a summer by the time the Scot turned up at Flushing Meadows in August 2012 with an Olympic gold medal round his neck. While he had lost that year’s Wimbledon final to Roger Federer, he had won over Middle England with an emotional Centre Court Q and A session with Sue Barker and got his own back with a thumping straight sets dismissal of the Swiss legend back at the same venue in the Olympic final.

The action was just getting started, though, the dramatis personae at Flushing Meadows that year including a tipsy Sir Sean Connery and Sir Alex Ferguson – who gate-crashed the press conference following the Scot’s semi-final victory over Tomas Berdych with his mum Judy to much bemusement from the assorted press corps - and a nasty little storm which blew kit bags across the court but crucially gave Murray the advantage of a day’s rest on Novak Djokovic.

The final between the Serb and the Scot was one for the ages, Murray racing into a two-set lead before being pegged back. The resultant toilet break, which saw the Scot shouting at himself in the mirror, turned the tide of history.

THE LOB WHICH LED GREAT BRITAIN TO DAVIS CUP GLORY . The Flanders Expo Arena is a large, SECC-style barn on the outskirts of the charming Belgian city of Ghent. It is also the venue where Dunblane conquered the world, Andy responsible for 11 of the 12 points which took Great Britain to their first Davis Cup triumph for three quarters of a century, at least three of which also came in the company of his big brother Jamie. The exception which proved the rule was a solitary singles rubber win for James Ward against John Isner in the quarter final of the USA.

After victory against the Americans, the younger Murray sibling took this team on his shoulders with a quarter final win against a strong French side just days after what by his standards was a disappointing tilt at Wimbledon. With Goffin fighting back to take out a young Kyle Edmund and the Murray brothers winning the pivotal doubles rubber on the second day, the final all came down to Murray versus Goffin in the reverse doubles. The lob on match point which secured the win and sparked a ticker tape shower will live long in the memory of all who were present.


Stop all the clocks. So epochal were the events of July 7, 2013, that it seemed appropriate to steal an intro from WH Auden, Murray slaying all the ghosts of British tennis by becoming the first man to claim the singles title in 77 years. In so doing he stole the clothes of Fred Perry, the man whose sportswear he wore for his opening his years on tour.

Murray, the first Scottish winner since Harold Mahony in 1896, was a man possessed during that 2013 final, the precision of his ball striking and effectiveness of his decision-making leaving Novak Djokovic chasing shadows in a 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 triumph. It wasn’t until he had the balls in his hand to serve for the championship that Murray threatened to blink. But when Djokovic finally netted, the Scot dropped his racquet in disbelief. He clambered up to his players box, so disorientated he almost missed his mum Judy. He personally spoke yesterday about preferring his 2016 win at this venue, but that was a canter by comparison.


Andy Murray has two Olympic singles gold medal. That would be two more than both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. The second was captured with a 7-5,4-6, 6-2, 7-5 win against Juan Martin del Potro, played out in front of a football-style crowd in Rio. The action see-sawed from side to side but the Scot’s samba skills captured the support of the Brazilian crowd.


Djokovic arrived at SW19 in 2016 with all four Grand Slam titles in his kit bag, but he didn’t even end the year as the world’s best player. While he originally took top spot when Marin Cilic beat the Serb in a humdrum match at the Paris Open, the Scot ended all arguments by overcoming Djokovic in the showpiece of the ATP finals. This period took quite a toll. But for a while at least Murray took on the toughest era in tennis and came out on top.