Andy Murray could potentially begin his singles comeback in just a few weeks’ time at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, an ATP Masters 1000 event that begins 11 August.
Murray, who’s playing doubles this week with his brother Jamie at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., told reporters that he’s been practising singles the past few weeks and has been feeling good. After Wimbledon, where the Scot played doubles with Pierre-Hugues Herbert and mixed doubles with Serena Williams, Murray practised a few singles drills. In Washington, he played a set on Sunday and about eight games on Monday.
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“In terms of how I’m moving and feeling and pulling up the next day from these practices, I’m really happy with where I’m at. I think I’m quite close,” he said. “If I was to play a tournament in a few weeks’ time, I could do it. But it’s just to get to maybe where I want to get to, I’ll need to play matches and get a little bit more work done in the gym on my cardio.”
Murray underwent a resurfacing surgery on his right hip in January, and in turn spent hours in the gym, strengthening his hip and improving its flexibility. But his cardio suffered.
“My cardio isn’t great,” he said.
His recent doubles success, which includes winning the Fever-Tree Championships title with Feliciano Lopez at The Queen’s Club in June, has helped. But the Scot feels he’s still a bit away from feeling comfortable by himself in a match.
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“What I’m doing here is, for the most part, I’m going to practise singles and play doubles to compete and then just each week I’m just going to see. If I keep progressing and I feel good in three weeks’ time, then I’ll play singles as soon as I’m ready. I’m not quite ready at this week, but I hope at some stage soon I will be,” Murray said.
If he isn’t able to make his singles return in Cincinnati, Murray will most likely wait until after the US Open to return to play singles and will continue to play doubles, including in New York. He’s currently scheduled to play doubles with Lopez at next week’s Coupe Rogers, a Masters 1000 event in Montreal.
“Best-case scenario probably would be Cincinnati, and then if I wasn’t able to play in Cincinnati, there’s a good chance I would probably wait until after New York because I wouldn’t want my first tournament to be playing best of five [sets],” Murray said.
Compared to last year, however, everything has been good news for Murray, who has drastically improved physically since 12 months ago. Last year, Murray played singles in Washington and made the quarter-finals (withdrawal). His run featured a three-set win against countryman Kyle Edmund, who was ranked No. 18 at the time.
But, because of pain in his right hip, Murray couldn’t serve properly nor could he use his right leg the correct way. It was also an emotional time for him. He finished his third-round match against Romanian Marius Copil at 3:02 a.m. local time, and afterwards broke down in tears.
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“I actually saw the end of that match a couple of weeks ago. I couldn’t walk. I was watching myself walk, and I was like ‘Wow’. It was really bad. I was struggling a lot. I don’t know how I really got through the match in the end. I was upset because my hip was really, really painful,” Murray said.
This year, however, he’s pain free, and he’s enjoying his tennis. “It’s brilliant,” he said.
The 32-year-old has leaned on Bob Bryan along the way. Murray peppered him with questions, beginning 12 months ago, when Bryan, then 40, underwent a hip surface replacement with an artificial joint, also on his right hip.
“He was like my guinea pig. I was messaging him two, three times a week, asking how he was getting on, trying to find out if it was potentially an option for me to give it a go. We’re not unbelievably close, but I communicated with him loads over that period,” Murray said.
In January 2018, the former World No. 1 first underwent surgery on his right hip. But because of severe pain, Murray was contemplating retirement in January at the Australian Open before he underwent a second operation six months ago.
Bryan has resumed a full-time doubles schedule in 2019 with his twin brother, Mike Bryan. The legendary combination have won two ATP Tour titles, including the Masters 1000 in Miami.
“He’s done extremely well to get back to the level that he’s playing at,” Murray said, “and I’m glad he did it, because if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have maybe given it a go even.”