Andy Murray’s comeback from a hip injury has stalled yet again and he has been forced to pull out of the Libema Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch next week.
It is 11 months since the former world No.1 last played a full, competitive match and five months since he had surgery to repair the longstanding hip problem. During that time, he has made several attempts to return to competition but each time he has been thwarted.
This is the fourth target he has failed to meet after The US Open, Brisbane and the Australian Open and his chances of playing at Wimbledon are now looking increasingly slim.
There have only been two sightings of him since he lost to Sam Querrey in the Wimbledon quarter-finals last summer, both before he opted to have surgery. He lost to Roger Federer in a charity match in Glasgow in November and was still walking with an obvious limp and then he tested the injury again in an exhibition set at the end of December in Abu Dhabi. Still limping, he lost that, too, to Roberto Bautista Agut.Murray keeps saying that he “hopes” to be able to play during the grass court season, particularly in SW19, but every delay to his comeback make those goals seem less attainable.
“It is with regret that I won’t be ready to play in ‘s-Hertogenbosch,” he announced through the tournament and on Facebook. “I was excited to play there for the first time, but I am not quite ready to return. I am still aiming to play in the coming weeks, but I want to be 100 per cent when I do return.”
Murray has been repeating that same mantra for months and after working so hard and waiting so long for his hip to recover, and who can blame him? To come back too early and risk another setback after 11 months of frustration would be just plain daft.
The good news is that Murray is finally back on the practice courts and is moving closer to a return but when that day will come is still unclear. The next big goal is the Fever-Tree Championships at Queen’s Club, an event he has won five times before, but he will leave any decision on that until the last minute.
With just under two weeks to go before the start of the tournament, Murray wants to see how practice and training progress in the next 10 days before he commits to playing.
“It’s been very slow,” he said in a promotional video for one of his sponsors. “I’ve been out getting close to a year now which is a lot longer than me and any of my team expected at the beginning but I’m getting closer to playing again. I’ve started training again a few days ago and hoping to make my comeback during the grass court season.
As for Wimbledon, Murray would not be drawn on his chances of being ready and when it came to picking a potential winner, he went for the obvious favourite.
“I’m hoping to be there but obviously Roger Federer has got a phenomenal record on grass,” Murray said. “He’s won, I think, eight times at Wimbledon so he definitely will be up there as one of the favourites. You just never know – it depends a little bit on the draw.”