The win was already secured by the time the first ball was struck in anger last night, not just for Andy Murray but for medical science, too.
Him being back on court pain-free was triumph enough after a miserable two years. It was a testament both to his determination to carve out a final chapter of his career and the surgical advancements that have allowed him to play again.
And for good measure he showed that he can still play a bit, too. In partnership with Spain’s Brit-for-a-day Feliciano Lopez he took down the top seeds at the Fever Tree Championships, Colombia’s Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal, 7-6, 6-3.
Andy Murray was victorious on his competitive return to tennis with Feliciano Lopez
Lopez and Murray defeated the top seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 7-6, 6-3
The Scot and the Spaniard had their fair share of luck but they outplayed their opponents
Murray spent six months away from tennis after struggling with a long-term hip problem
Those videos of fond farewells at Melbourne Park back in January, after what was suggested to be his last singles match, were left looking somewhat absurd. On this evidence we will be seeing more of the 32-year-old Scot on the court than we will in the commentary box.
He was enthused afterwards, having grown into the match as it went on and finished it with a crescendo of crunching groundstrokes and rapier net plays.
‘I was struggling a bit early on but as the match got going I made some returns,’ he said after a 74-minute victory. ‘I really enjoyed it and I feel very fortunate to be back playing tennis again.
‘I absolutely love playing on this court, it’s a brilliant place to play tennis. I felt relaxed in the build-up but as I was walking down the steps at the start I began to feel a bit nervous, but that’s what you want, the nerves and the tension.’
With a cautionary grin he added: ‘I might not be able to walk tomorrow so let’s see how I pull up.’
The embossed honours boards in the stately Queen’s Club pavilion show that nowhere has Murray been more successful than on these lawns, his name marked down as a five time singles winner stretching back to 2009.
His last appearance was at the Australian Open when he revealed he was in intense pain
He had a second hip operation and the 32-year-old has since described it as ‘life changing’
He knows every blade of grass on the main court, having covered every inch of it as a singles player, something that there is no need to do with a partner to share the load.
Now he was back alongside the handsome Spaniard, playing a form of the game that is a recreational favourite but a relative backwater in the professional ranks. If he does well at Wimbledon it may yet become the new rock ‘n roll.
So 157 days after that emotional quasi-farewell in Melbourne, and 143 after he underwent a second operation to have a metal cap installed in his hip, he walked out onto his favourite arena at just before seven o’ clock, with around 6,000 souls having waited behind on a grey evening.
Queen’s does not do throaty roars, but there was a palpable warmth to the reception of loud cheers and the standing ovation to go with it.
Murray and Lopez faced a tough task against the top doubles seeds at Queen’s Club
Given the quickfire nature of doubles there was no chance this would be a four hours-plus affair like his last match, the epic against Roberto Bautista Agut at the Australian Open, which he feared would be his last.
This is essentially why he is playing doubles now, with the intention of testing out his body to see he can achieve the ultimate goal of playing singles, perhaps sometime around the US Open in late August.
There was, reassuringly, no sign of that slightly slouched limp that had become familiar. His first contribution was a laser-like backhand return, and soon he settled into the different rhythms of doubles, with its strange (and unnecessary) rituals of partners gladhanding each other between points and talking with the mouth covered over.
Doubles on a slick grass court is not always the most scintillating and the match only came alive in the tiebreak, in which the Scottish-Spanish duo raced to a 3-0 lead and found themselves helped by a series of fortunate net cords that smoothed the way to taking it 7-5.
Murray and Lopez took the first set on a tie break before breaking serve in the second set
Nobody had been troubled on serve to that point, with Murray holding his three service games for the loss of an aggregate four points, his delivery out of the hand initially relying more on placement than power.
His reflexes were as sharp as ever around the net, no surprise to anyone who has seen him play doubles in the Davis Cup with brother Jamie, who yesterday was exiled to court number two alongside his new partner Neal Skupski. It is conceivable the siblings could meet in the semi-finals.
By the second set the Murray engine was purring, darting around the court and unleashing two superb forehands to decisively break for 4-2. The fist pumps and cry of self-encouragement made a nonsense of his claim that he did not really care about the result.
Murray not bothered about winning or losing? That one was never easy to believe.