A world-leading expert in hip resurfacing surgery believes the operation can help Sir Andy Murray return to the top level of tennis.
Dr Edwin Su has helped a number of professional athletes return to their sport, including doubles specialist Bob Bryan, who is playing at the Australian Open less than six months after going under the knife.
Bryan has recommended Su to Murray, although the much greater physical demands of singles means there are no guarantees of a similar outcome.
The former world No 1 is expected to make a decision over the coming week whether to have the operation or prepare for a farewell appearance at Wimbledon this summer.
Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, Su said: “I think it would absolutely be able to help him. Ideally, it is with no pain. Most of the time, right away from the time they wake up from the surgery, patients say that the pain is gone.
“It is really miraculous. There is then healing and soft-tissue pain but, once they start feeling better, they are able to do the things they used to do. They can regain their normal life.
“What is unknown in elite athletes is whether they can return to sport. There is no guarantee in any medical procedure but, given he has been able to continue his performance at such a high level with a bad hip, I would guess the new hip would function better.
“I believe it could get him back to the top level. It does raise the question of whether or not that level of activity would affect the implant’s longevity. In our experience, it doesn’t seem to. Some of my patients have done ultra-marathons with 15,000 miles on the new hip.”
Su believes the timescale for a return would be similar to Bryan’s, meaning, if Murray had the surgery soon, he could even be back for Wimbledon.
“Singles is much more strenuous than doubles,” he added. “It’s uncharted territory. No one has done it and returned in singles tennis and it would require more endurance in the muscle to cover the court but, based on the previous operations of sportsmen in basketball and hockey, who also have to move quickly, I think he could do it.
“Murray means a lot to the sport and I think he has got a lot of great tennis left in him. We just have to give him a great hip.”
Leon Smith said yesterday that he would give up his job as Great Britain Davis Cup captain “instantly” if Murray wanted it.
“We could use him on the performance side at the push of a button. Look, he could get my job, that’s fine,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme.
“If I’m going to step away for someone for the Davis Cup, I would instantly give it to Andy Murray if he wanted it. That would be no problem to me whatsoever.
“He’s earned the right for that and he could help British players or he could be involved in training camps. Whatever it is, we want to use him.”
Smith was also optimistic that Murray could “find a way” to play at Wimbledon again in the future.