ANTWERP, Oct 21 ― Andy Murray said he was “very proud” after earning his first ATP title since March 2017 yesterday with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory over fellow three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka in the Antwerp final.
Former world number one Murray, who contemplated retirement earlier this year before undergoing career-saving hip surgery, fought back from a set and 3-1 down to claim his 46th career title.
“It means a lot. The last few years have been extremely difficult,” Murray, who broke down in tears at the end, told Amazon Prime.
“Both me and Stan have had a lot of injury problems in the last couple of years. It's amazing to be back, playing against him in the final like that. I think it was a great match.”
“I didn't expect to be in this position at all. I'm happy, very happy,” added Murray, whose ranking has plummeted to 243 in the world.
Murray became the lowest-ranked ATP champion since No. 355 Pablo Andujar triumphed at the 2018 Marrakech Open.
“I've really enjoyed my week here. The atmosphere the last few days has been amazing,” said Murray.
“I'm very proud of the win this week.”
Wawrinka, who was also hunting a first title in over two years, was full of praise for an opponent who in January tearfully revealed he was in constant agony from a hip injury.
Murray had announced at an emotional Australian Open news conference that he planned to retire at Wimbledon this year because of chronic hip pain.
“I think the tennis world, including me, was really sad in Australia after that press conference,” said Wawrinka.
“To see you back at this level, it's amazing. We're all really happy. I'm sad I lost today but I'm really happy to see you back.
“You're an amazing champion and you deserve that. I've lost today but in general, it was a great week.”
Fourth seed Wawrinka broke Murray in his opening serve game in Antwerp as he secured the first set in this 20th meeting between the pair.
The Swiss again broke Murray early in the second but the Scot hit back to level for 3-3 and then forced a deciding set as Wawrinka lost his serve for the second time.
Wawrinka regained the upper hand as he broke for 2-1 in the final set, but Murray responded immediately as the players traded breaks for four consecutive games.
With Wawrinka serving to stay in the match, Murray brought up championship point after almost two and a half hours and wrapped up his first title since Dubai in 2017 when the Swiss strayed wide.
Murray became the second straight British winner of the European Open, after Kyle Edmund defeated Gael Monfils in last year's final for his maiden ATP crown.
Murray's success brought immediate congratulations including from Spain's Feliciano Lopez who partnered the Briton to the doubles title at Queen's on the eve of Wimbledon.
That was his first competition since his January surgery.
“What can i say @andy_murray? Makes me so happy to see you succeed..insane what you've done this week after everything u went through..truly inspiring,” tweeted Lopez. ― AFP