Tim Henman urges Andy Murray not to risk further injury at US Open

Tim Henman has urged Andy Murray only to play at the US Open if he has fully recovered from his hip problem.

Andy Murray has been practising at Flushing Meadows as hopes grow he will be fit for the US Open. Picture: Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The three-time grand slam champion limped through his Wimbledon campaign before losing in the quarter-finals to Sam Querrey.

Murray has not played a match since and there were major question marks about his participation at the year’s final grand slam, which starts in New York on Monday. But he travelled to the United States late last week to practise at Flushing Meadows, and the feeling is much more positive.

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Henman, though, sounded a note of caution. The former British No 1 said: “I hope he’s going there to win it and, if he’s going to do that, he’s got to be 100 per cent healthy.

“With what he’s achieved in his career, making fourth round or quarter-finals is not what he’s about. With the troubles he’s had injuries and health-wise this year, it would be silly to put himself even further back.

“If he plays, great, but his hip is obviously something that he’s going to have to manage so I hope he really feels he can do himself justice.”

Henman, who reached the US Open semis in 2004, added: “If we say he is 100 per cent, then there’s no doubt he can win it.

“I think hard courts are probably his best surface. You look at his track record in New York, how well he’s played in Australia, his record in Masters 1000s, and looking at how many injured soldiers there are out there.

“If he is healthy then he’s definitely got a good chance.”

Murray, the 2012 champion in New York, is far from the only injury doubt, with Roger Federer, Marin Cilic and Milos Raonic also pulling out of last week’s Masters tournament in Cincinnati.

The US Open will definitely be without defending champion Stan Wawrinka, two-time winner Novak Djokovic as well as former finalist Kei Nishikori, who have all pulled the plug on their seasons because of injury.

The growing casualty list at the top of men’s tennis has led many to question whether the season should be shortened or the format at grand slams changed from best of five sets to best of three.

Henman, though, does not think there should be an over-reaction.

The 42-year-old, who will play in the Champions Tennis event at The Royal Albert Hall later this year, said: “I think this is just a very unfortunate scenario that has evolved all at the same time.

“If you look at the number of tournaments the top players play now, they actually play less. When I was playing, it was much more normal to see top guys with 25, 26 tournaments, now it’s 16, 17, 18.

“Wawrinka and Djokovic are older. If it was a whole series of younger players that were suddenly saying I’m going to take the remaining five months off, that would not be good.

“One of the biggest challenges is making sure you stay injury free. It’s been an unfortunate hard-court stretch. Cincinnati last week was very tough to see.”

l Tim Henman plays at Champions Tennis at The Royal Albert Hall, 30th November - 3rd December 2017. Tickets available at www.championstennis.co.uk