Andy Murray has a special relationship with the Olympics.
If truth be told, it didn’t get off to the best start. Just weeks after making his first Grand Slam final at the 2008 US Open, the British tennis ace suffered a shock opening-round loss in the men’s singles at the Beijing 2008 Games to Taiwanese World. No. 77 Yen-hsun Lu in straight sets.
But Murray returned to the Olympics as a new player at London 2012.
On the hallowed turf of Wimbledon, he caused a seismic shock to defeat grass court king Roger Federer in the gold medal match. An hour later Murray was back on court, where he landed silver alongside Laura Robson in the mixed doubles.
Four years and a back surgery later, Murray became the first player ever to win two consecutive Olympic gold medals in singles tennis with victory over Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro in a Rio 2016 final that lasted over four hours.
Since then Murray has had a torrid time with injury, undergoing two hip operations that have limited his time on court.
The 34-year-old was hoping for more Olympic magic at Tokyo 2020.
And he made a promising start as he and Joe Salisbury knocked out French second seeds Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hughes Herbert in straight sets before pulling out of his singles opener against Felix Auger-Aliassime citing a thigh injury.
"I am really disappointed at having to withdraw but the medical staff have advised me against playing in both events, so I have made the difficult decision to withdraw from the singles and focus on playing doubles." - Andy Murray
Fast start at Tokyo 2020
Murray and Salisbury navigated hot and humid conditions to secure a comfortable victory over Mahut and Herbert in their men’s doubles opener.
"I think we have the potential to be a really good team," said Murray afterwards. "If we keep the same sort of attitude and everything, prepare diligently, I think we've got a chance of doing well."
Regardless of his recent injury problems, Murray is not one to participate for the sake of it. Rivals beware, he will not be relinquishing his medals without a fight.
“The Olympics means a huge amount to me, it’s a massive honour to be able to compete at a fourth Games,” Murray said last month. "Leading Team GB out at the opening ceremony five years ago in Rio was one of the highlights of my career.
"Going to an Olympics as defending champion is exciting and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Murray is used to proving his doubters wrong.
A month after losing an emotional 2012 Wimbledon final to Roger Federer, the Brit - who was still to win a Grand Slam - found himself opposite the grass-court king on Centre Court once more, this time in the Olympic final.
But on a sunny day at SW19 it was finally Murray’s time to shine. He took the gold medal in a crushing straight sets victory and became Great Britain’s first men’s Olympic singles winner since Josiah Ritchie in 1908.
But perhaps more importantly, Murray had proved to his doubters that he had the temperament to beat the best players on the biggest stages.
It is no coincidence that he went on to land his first Grand Slam later that year at the US Open, before sealing Wimbledon titles in 2013 and 2016.