Andy Murray is making good progress following surgery on his hip and there is a chance the Scot could return before the start of the grass-court season.
Boris Becker claimed yesterday that tennis needs the former world No 1 and that the sport is simply has not been the same in the seven months since the Scot was last able to play.
“Tennis needs him; tennis is not the same without Andy Murray,” Becker said, speaking in his role as an ambassador for Laureus. “He got this problem and he stopped when he was the No 1 player in the world. It’s the last thing you want to happen.
“It’s a serious injury – I’m not his doctor, I can’t give you details of what the surgery was or how many surgeries he had – but what I hear is he is contemplating coming back on the grass because obviously it’s a little easier for the hip.
“I think you wouldn’t come back if you wouldn’t have the chance to come back fully fit.
“Once he’s fully fit, he’s one of the best players in the world. Then it’s a question of time. How much time are you going to give yourself to come back to this level you had before? I hope he does.”
Becker’s prayers may be answered soon. Murray has kept a low profile since having surgery on his hip on 8 January. At the time, no one was sure whether he would be able to come back at all, much less when. But within days of getting back to London, the Scot was in cheery and upbeat mood, tweeting that his rehab was going far better than expected.
Back in January, Murray had tentatively pencilled in the grass-court season for his return to work but two months on from surgery, there are whispers that he may – but only “may” – be fit to return before then. At the moment, he is back in the gym working himself back to fitness on the bike, a climbing machine and with weights and Pilates sessions. The aim is to be back on the practice court by the end of the month.
Murray is putting no pressure on himself to speed up his comeback – he will be back when he feels good and ready, whenever that may be. It is what happens when he gets back on the road that is the great imponderable. If he does return for the grass-court swing, he will have been away for almost a year.
That is a long time in anyone’s book but in the life of a professional athlete, it is an eternity.
When he had back surgery in the autumn of 2013, he only missed a little over three months but it took him six months to get back to something like full match fitness and then another six months to get himself back into contention as a serial winner. It was frustrating and it was exhausting but he did it. He qualified for the end of year championships and even if he was running on empty by that stage, he had proved to himself – and everyone else – that he was back. That, though, was five years ago. By the time Murray is back at work, he will be 31. He will also have a ranking well outside the world’s top 100 – and if does not play until after Wimbledon, he will not have a ranking at all (he is currently No 21 in the world pecking order).
He can use a protected ranking to get into any tournament he wants, although that ranking will not earn him a seeded position.
That means his path back will be littered with big names from the very first day. Murray against Roger Federer in the first round of Wimbledon is not beyond the realms of
But by playing a reduced schedule, Federer has proved that it is still possible to in major titles at the age of 36 and in January, Murray said that he knew he would have to revise his calendar.
But if it is good enough for Federer, it is good enough for Murray – and in his current optimistic mood, anything seems possible.
Rafael Nadal, meanwhile, has withdrawn from the Mexico Open after suffering pain in the area of a hip injury that forced him to pull out of the Australian Open last month.