Andy Murray, on the eve of his return to singles competition for the first time since his hip resurfacing surgery six months ago, was relaxed as he discussed his comeback in the Cincinnati Masters 1000 with an encouraging mixture of hope and perspective.
“I have zero pain,” he said before his first-round match against Richard Gasquet. “I’m not expecting to be moving as well as I used to but I still think I can probably move better than I am just now. But that will take time. I started playing singles again only a couple of weeks ago.
“Obviously, when you’re playing at the highest level against the best players, they hit the ball big and it takes time to get used to that again. And there’s still some improvement to come from my hip operation.”
After so many injuries and a clear uncertainty about the hip procedure, Murray’s return since his operation has been surprisingly swift. Last August in Washington the pain in his hip led him to weep audibly in his chair after a long, three-set victory against Marius Copil.
At the Australian Open in January Murray announced the hip had forced him to search for an exit route. After what seemed like one final breathless fight in a five-set first-round defeat by Roberto Bautista Agut, he was awkwardly ushered off the court to videos of his peers celebrating his career, as if he had already retired.
Since the 28 January operation, however, Murray has been consistently ahead of schedule. In June he marked his surprise doubles comeback at the Queen’s Club with a title alongside Feliciano López. At Wimbledon Murray was not even certain he would compete in the US swing in any capacity, yet he decided to return to doubles action immediately in Washington. During his appearances in Washington and Montreal he trained for singles throughout before accepting a singles wildcard into Cincinnati. He attributes the swift recovery to his hip’s response to his workload.