ANTWERP • Andy Murray arrived in China four weeks ago with the hope of winning one or two matches per week, gradually building his match fitness while aspiring to feel a little more like himself by the end of it all.
On Sunday evening, after a frantic month on the road across two continents, he left Antwerp with so much more after defeating Stan Wawrinka 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 to win the European Open, his first ATP Tour title since March 2017.
The tears flowed as he sat on his courtside chair and took in his win.
"It means a lot," the 32-year-old Scot said of his 46th career title.
"Last few years have been extremely difficult. Me and Stan have had a lot of injury problems. Amazing to be back playing against him in a final like that.
"It was a great match. Stan was playing unbelievable - hitting winners from all over the court.
"I just managed to hang in a bit at the end of the second set and the third set was extremely close again.
"I didn't expect to be in this position at all, so I'm very happy."
Alongside his brother Jamie, Dan Evans and Neal Skupski, Murray has been called up to Britain's Davis Cup squad for the tournament in Madrid next month.
There has never been a hint of doubt about Murray's fighting qualities, but this four-week run had been a testament to his mentality.
It has been striking to see his improvement as he has gradually won more matches against top players, while his movement and serve continue to strengthen.
Antwerp was the final flourish of a comeback that has defied belief. Nine months ago, he was waved out of the Australian Open as his tearful family watched on.
Days later, he underwent hip resurfacing surgery and just a couple months ago, he was still learning how it felt to move freely and chase after balls without sharp, debilitating pain.
Wawrinka, 34, provided perspective of the size of Murray's success.
The Swiss departed their fateful 2017 Roland Garros semi-final with his knee screaming for mercy and was forced to undergo two operations that August.
He has only recently returned to the top 20 and Antwerp marked only his second final since surgery.
While he was sad that he lost, the world No. 17 hailed his opponent as "an amazing champion".
"To see you back at this level... I'm really happy," said Wawrinka.
"The tennis world, including me, was really sad in Australia after that press conference."
Murray, who rose 116 spots to world No. 127 yesterday after his victory, will now head home to prepare for the birth of his third child.
"This is one of the biggest wins I've had, after everything," he said. "I'm really proud of the win.
"I'll have three kids under four years old. I need to get on the road so we don't get out of control.
"I'm excited for the third kid. My wife's been a huge support for getting me back on the court."