John McEnroe has claimed Andy Murray can have “one last hurray” and win Wimbledon this year – even with a metal hip. And the American legend said Ivan Lendl would have returned as his head coach if his old rival of him did believe the Scot can triumph again.
“If he was physically fit, you can’t count him out against anyone,” said the American legend. “I actually believe he’d be one of a handful of guys that could win it.”
The Scot, 35, has not won a grasscourt title since his second Wimbledon title in 2016 – or since his two hip surgeries. And his preparations have been hampered by a stomach strain suffered in the recent Stuttgart final and he is still struggling to serve.
But double Wimbledon winner Murray has huge experience on grass. And the top two players in the rankings – Daniil Medvedev and Alex Zverev – will be absent along with Roger Federer while the other high seeds have never competed at SW19. Defending champion Novak Djokovic is the red-hot favorite while last year’s runner-up Matteo Berrettini is in strong form.
But BBC commentator McEnroe said: “If Murray’s fit, I absolutely believe he is one of the contenders. I actually believe he’d be one of a handful of guys that could win it. I don’t know if he is fully fit. Maybe he doesn’t even know that. But he’s got loads of experience. He knows how to play better than almost anyone on that surface. He’s prepared himself well, I believe, for that very moment. Obviously if he’s looking at Rafa and Novak, he’s got to be thinking, he’s going to have one last hurrah, I believe. I think that’s entirely conceivable. What I don’t know is how you know how close to 100% he is.
“Honestly, if he’s at 90% of the level of what he was, I think he’d beat all but like four to six people, if he was 90%. If he’s 100%, which is hard to believe that he is him, but let’s just say he’s close to that, he could do anything. He could also lose early because you know, deep down how much does he believe, you know, believe he can do it? How far back is he, these are the things to which we don’t know the answers. I may not know the answer to them. So it’s sort of exciting because it puts him back in the mix, which I think he deserves.”
Lendl started a third stint as Murray’s coach in March after leading him to three Grand Slams, two Olympic golds and world No.1 in their first two times together.
“I saw Ivan recently,” said Super Brat, now 63. “I don’t think he’d do it if he didn’t believe Andy could win one. I honestly don’t believe he would be part of this. So I think that sends some type of message as well. And I’m hopeful that he can do it. That would be a hell of a story.”
Murray is currently ranked world No.51 and will not be seeded in Friday’s draw.
“He will need the luck of the draw,” McEnroe added. “Maybe he could get lucky and he plays the 32nd seed and he drops into a place that would actually benefit him. Of course he runs the risk that he plays Djokovic playing the first round. I don’t think anyone wants to see that.”
But whatever happens, McEnroe insists Murray should be valued as a national treasure.
“I think sometimes we forget that he’s been in 11 Grand Slam finals and won three of them and he was No.1 in the world at one point, ranking ahead of these other legends,” he added. So I know it has to be tough for him in a lot of ways to watch these guys continue to amass records where he basically couldn’t play at all.
“I’m not a doctor. I’m amazed that he’s moving as well as he is. If you’ve got a metal hip, that would tell me that you wouldn’t move as well, that you would be stiffer, that you couldn’t react as quickly. I just don’t see how it’s even possible.
“But I noticed that particularly, mostly this year, I’ve noticed a definite improvement, almost to where it was close to what I remember seeing. I’d have to look at tapes from when he was winning Wimbledon the second time or the US Open. I’d have to really look closely at that to see how much of a difference there is. And I would assume that recovery is more difficult. But tell that to Rafa. Look what he’s done. These guys are beyond belief.”
John McEnroe is part of the BBC’s Wimbledon 2022 line-up. Catch all the action across BBC TV, radio and online from Monday 27th June.