Sunday 21 July 2019

Heavy metal Murray targets singles return by end of year

Tennis

Comeback trail: Andy Murray is aiming to be the first man to play elite singles with a metal hip. Photo: Amazon Prime Video/PA Wire.
Comeback trail: Andy Murray is aiming to be the first man to play elite singles with a metal hip. Photo: Amazon Prime Video/PA Wire.

Simon Briggs

As Andy Murray prepares for next week's doubles return at Queen's Club, he is hoping that his partnership with Feliciano Lopez will act as the springboard for a singles comeback before the end of the year.

Murray is trying to break new ground by becoming the first man to play elite singles tennis with a metal hip. But after miscalculating his rehabilitation schedule many times during the past two years, he has decided not to set a firm target, other than to say that the US Open - which starts in late August - will probably come too soon.

In the meantime, his joint bid to lift the Fever-Tree Championships doubles title with Lopez, the veteran Spaniard, is likely to begin on either Monday or Wednesday, depending on many other moving parts in the schedule.

"I hope at some stage this year I would be able to get back to playing singles again," said Murray, whose last competitive match was a five-set loss to Roberto Bautista Agut at January's Australian Open.

"When that is, I'm not really interested in putting a time limit on it, so I don't need to play singles after Wimbledon or the US Open to, you know, enjoy doing what I'm doing just now. If I can, that would be brilliant, but I don't think that's going to be the case. I think it's going to take a bit longer.

"I still have quite a lot of work to do before I'm at a level where I feel like I'll be able to be competitive. At this moment I've been progressing all of the time, at some stage it's probably going to plateau for a while before I'm able to kick on."

Murray's surge back to match fitness - at least, the sort of fitness required for covering half the court - has happened with unexpected speed.

He went under the knife on January 29 and it was March 29 before social media featured the first pictures of him hitting against a wall. Another two months on, he is moving like a top-class athlete again, even if the chasm between singles and doubles remains difficult to bridge.

Murray's appearance in the doubles at Queen's will make Saturday's draw all the more intriguing, especially as he could end up taking on his elder brother Jamie.

It's bound to end up happening, I'd imagine. I wouldn't be surprised if that was how the draw came out." (© Daily Telegraph, London

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