Tim Henman is encouraged by Andy Murray’s recovery from back surgery but believes the Wimbledon champion is right to be cautious about his chances of playing at the Australian Open.
Murray went under the knife in September in an attempt to cure a problem that had been affecting him for 18 months, forcing him to pull out of this year’s French Open.
The 26-year-old has not played since helping Great Britain reach the Davis Cup World Group with victory over Croatia and will miss next week’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London.
The plan is for Murray to head to Miami in a couple of weeks’ time for his annual pre-season training camp, which should give him plenty of time to get ready for the Australian Open in January.
But the Scot has been careful not to set any unrealistic targets and said this week he will only travel to Melbourne if he feels he is in good enough shape to have a chance of winning the tournament.
Henman is a good friend of Murray, and he said: “I’ve seen a fair bit of him in the last month and it seems like he’s making good progress.
“I like what I see and what I hear but it’s very important he doesn’t come back until he’s 100 per cent. There’s no point in rushing it, especially given the standard at the top of the game these days.
“You can’t compete unless you’re 100 per cent so Andy needs to remain patient. There’s obviously a carrot there with the first grand slam of the year but he’s got to be realistic.
“You’re playing five-set matches and you need to be ready for that. The last thing he will want to do is come back too early and suffer a setback that would put him out for longer.”
Murray has been using the facilities at Chelsea’s training ground to aid his rehabilitation but has not yet spent any time on court.
He is hoping to hit a few balls next week, which will give him a better idea of where he is in his recovery.
Henman, who will be attending the Grand Opening of the Statoil Masters Tennis on December 4 in aid of children’s charity Best Beginnings, said: “Any time you have surgery it’s going to be invasive but he’s got a very good team around him.
“I don’t think he knows yet whether he will make Australia but he seems to be moving in the right direction and he’s able to do more and more physically.
“I had shoulder and elbow surgery while I was playing and I can remember what a frustrating time it was. Injuries are part and parcel of the game and the reality is with the amount of tennis that they play most players will be playing with niggles pretty much all of the time.
“But this is something that has been giving him pain down his leg and it’s stopping him doing a lot of things. He’s 26, he’s got a lot of his career ahead of him. This is about enabling him to become a better player.”