Murray’s singles return closer than expected

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Andy Murray’s presence in the doubles draw at the Citi Open is an extra added bonus in an extremely strong, intriguing 16-team event.

But Murray said Monday that when he starts playing singles, he’ll stop playing doubles.

And that “some day” may be sooner than many expected. 

Perhaps even including himself.

Murray will play with brother Jamie in D.C., for the first time since 2013 in an ATP Tour event.

In Montreal at the Rogers Cup, he said Monday he would team up with Feliciano Lopez. Murray and Lopez combined to win the title at Queen’s Club, in Murray’s first tournament back since hip surgery.

As for the Cincinnati Masters 1000 the following week, Murray said it was likely he and Lopez could team up again.

Except …

Best-best case scenario

Murray qualified it as being the “best, best-case scenario”. But he hasn’t excluded the possibility that he might return to singles action there.

The Brit has played a couple of practice sets here in D.C. – notably on Sunday against American Denis Kudla.

hip

And he’s pleased to report that there are so many things he can do, ways he can make his body move, that he was unable to do here a year ago.

He can push up on his serve, for one thing. But what he’s noticed is that he’s lacking sufficient cardio to play singles. That’s something that’s especially apparent in D.C., with the heat and humidity.

Murray said he spent so much time in the gym, strengthening the muscles around the hip, that he didn’t prioritize the cardio.

Doubles Andy works on his singles, too (video)

If not Cincy, then the fall

Murray also said that if he doesn’t play in Cincinnati, he wouldn’t return until after the US Open. He can’t conceive of his first tournament back not only being a Grand Slam, but more critically with a best-of-five format in singles.

All in all, though, it’s a dose of pretty happy news from a guy who’s just happy to get up every morning, and not be in pain or feel like garbage.

He said what had changed was that, instead of thinking it was never going to happen (a return in singles), his mindset is “Why shouldn’t it happen?”

Murray said he messaged back and forth with American doubles star Bob Bryan, who had hip resurfacing surgery exactly a year ago in New York during the Citi Open tournament, two or three times a week.

Bob and brother Mike, four-time Citi Open champions, reached the final in Atlanta last week and are in the draw here.

He wanted to know how Bryan felt, how he was progressing. And he said Monday that it was likely he wouldn’t even be sitting here, or had the surgery, had Bryan not had such success with it himself.

Murray said he also spoke to former NHL player Ed Jovanovski, who had the surgery in 2014. The surgeon who performed it believes Jovanovski was the first professional athlete to have the surgery and not have it be a career-ender

(As far as we know, Murray didn’t speak to The Undertaker, the former wrestling star who had it even before Jovanovski).

Doubles Andy works on his singles, too (video)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – It’s fun for the Murray brothers, and for the fans and tournament, that Andy Murray is playing doubles this week at the Citi Open.

But there’s an extra added bonus to it, as it turns out.

The former No. 1 is on site at a tournament that features a lot of excellent singles players.

And that means: the motherlode of practice partners to help him get to the place where he can think of competing on the singles court again.

Murray was out on the practice courts Sunday with American Denis Kudla, with a lot of fans watching on.

He was sporting his “Man-bra”, or “Bro”, or whatever you want to call that thing and playing singles points.

It was pretty amusing how his demeanour was completely different than it was the previous day when he was practicing doubles.

Murray brothers reunite in D.C.

Murray would get annoyed at himself every time he missed or felt he wasn’t fast enough off the mark.

He was, kind of, “same old Andy”. Which is a welcome sight.

 

Murray brothers reunite in D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – If Andy Murray isn’t yet ready to come back in singles, his presence is a huge add to the doubles draws at the tournaments he has played.

Murray and Feliciano Lopez won the doubles at Queen’s Club, in his return to the courts after hip surgery.

And Murray, partnered with Serena Williams, were a big reason the mixed doubles event at Wimbledon turned out to be such a great event.

This week, in Washington, D.C. at the Citi Open, Murray is reuniting on court with big brother Jamie.

They’ll face Nicolas Mahut and Edouard-Roger Vasselin in the first round of a doubles draw that’s just packed with quality and interest.

It will feature the doubles debut of Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas (who drew top seeds (and Wimbledon champions) Cabal and Farah.

There are the Bryan brothers, of course, who have won the Citi Open four times (including three straight years from 2005-2007).

The immortal Leander Paes is teaming up with Jack Sock, who has been out all year and just returned to action at the Atlanta event this week.

Murray

First time since 2013 on the ATP Tour

The Murray brothers last played together at Davis Cup in 2016. They beat Japan in the first round, and then beat Juan Martin del Potro and Leonardo Mayer of Argentina in the semifinals. And they also played together for three ties in 2015.

They also played together at the Rio Olympics that year.

On the ATP Tour, their last joint appearances goes all the way back to Indian Wells in 2013.

Murray just looks so happy to be on court. Three’s a lightness to him that (despite the circumstances) is just great to see.

Here’s what it looked like (videoing through the fence is, well, not ideal. But we did the best we could!)

They practiced with fellow Brit Joe Salisbury and his American partner Rajeev Ram.

ATP Ranking Report – June 24, 2019

Some nice moves from David Goffin and Feliciano Lopez, as their efforts in the 500-level tournaments at Queen’s Club and in Halle pay off.

Meanwhile, 18-year-old Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime holds firm at No. 21.

He had some big Challenger clay-court results to defend the last two weeks. And despite it being his first turn at the grass, he did that with a final in Stuttgart and a semifinal at Queen’s Club.

Had Auger-Aliassime won at Queen’s, he would have leaped past Milos Raonic and become the No. 1 Canadian. 

Considering he was at No. 5 a year ago – behind Raonic, Denis Shapovalov, Vasek Pospisil and Peter Polansky – that would have been quite a feat. His season so far already is quite a feat.

Also notable: Andy Murray’s doubles ranking moves from … infinity to No. 148 with his title at Queen’s. Lopez rises from No. 85 to No. 57 – almost erasing the hit it took after going from the semis in 2018 to the second round in 2019 in Paris.

ON THE UPSWING

Milos Raonic (CAN): No. 18 ==========> No. 17 (Raonic came close to beating Lopez and – who knows? – going all the way at Queen’s Club. But despite back concerns, he moves up a spot).

Matteo Berrettini (ITA): No. 22 ==========> No. 20 (This spring’s Italian revelation gets into the top 20. A year ago, he had just jumped into the top 100).

David Goffin (BEL): No. 33 ==========> No. 23 (The Belgian reached the Halle final and improves his lot considerably).

Gilles Simon (FRA): No. 38 ==========> No. 25 (That the Frenchman could smile after losing to Lopez in the Queen’s Club final was impressive, as a series of marathon matches puts him back inside the top 25).

ranking
(Screenshot: TennisTV)

Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA): No. 43 ==========> No. 38 (Another rise in the rankings for Herbert, who also snagged a doubles partner at Wimbledon named … Andy Murray).

Richard Gasquet (FRA): No. 54 ==========> No. 46

Feliciano Lopez (ESP): No. 113 ==========> No. 53 (His performance at Queen’s Club – winning the singles and doubles – was an ironman effort. Especially given the rain delays early in the week. And it helped get him a main-draw wild card for Wimbledon. Otherwise, with his ranking at the cutoff, he could have had to hit Roehampton for a tournament he’d played 17 straight years without having to qualify, at which he’s reached the quarterfinals three times).

ranking
(Screenshot: TennisTV)

Steve Johnson (USA): No. 76 ==========> No. 69

Dennis Novak (AUT): No. 117 ==========> No. 104 (The 25-year-old Austrian reaches a career high after making the final of the Ilkley Challenger last week).

Marcos Baghdatis (CYP): No. 139 ==========> No. 138 (The 34-year-old hasn’t played since a Challenger in Korea in early May, but he still got a wild card into the Wimbledon main draw. The reason was revealed Monday, as the Cypriot announced it would be his career finale).

Nicolas Mahut (FRA): No. 191 ==========> No. 145 (Another 37-year-old who had a good week last week – but still not enough to earn him a Wimbledon WC as he’ll have to slog through the qualifying).

Tommy Robredo (ESP): No. 216 ==========> No. 174 (Yes, another 37-year-old. Robredo won the Parma Challenger on clay).

ON THE DOWNSWING

Marin Cilic (CRO): No. 15 ==========> No. 18 (The Croat is not going to look back at 2019 with fondness, even though it’s barely half over and there’s still time).

Denis Shapovalov (CAN): No. 25 ==========> No. 27 (He’s treading water, if only just, after going 2-8 since making the semifinals in Miami).

Alex de Minaur (AUS): No. 26 ==========> No. 29 (It’s been a quiet spring for the young Aussie, who missed some time due to injury).

Nick Kyrgios (AUS): No. 39 ==========> No. 43 (He remains an enigma wrapped in a conundrum. And the $17,500 in fines he picked up at Queen’s Club cut the €28,620 he earned there in half).

ranking
Queen’s wasn’t Kyrgios’s finest hour. And it hit him in the wallet. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Grigor Dimitrov (BUL): No. 45 ==========> No. 48 (A first-round loss to Auger-Aliassime in London didn’t help).

Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER): No. 50 ==========> No. 57

Robin Haase (NED): No. 66 ==========> No. 73

Sam Querrey (USA): No. 68 ==========> No. 79

Jérémy Chardy (FRA): No. 65 ==========> No. 81 (The 32-year-old made the semis at Queen’s a year ago. This year, he lost a third-set tiebreak to Stefanos Tsitsipas. Given he was a finalist at ‘s-Hertogenbosch last year and didn’t play this year, his ranking has dropped 40 spots from the start of the French Open).

Matthew Ebden (AUS): No. 80 ==========> No. 91

Paolo Lorenzi (ITA): No. 96 ==========> No. 107 (The Italian is skipping Wimbledon qualifying this week and playing a clay-court Challenger in Milan).

Denis Kudla (USA): No. 79 ==========> No. 113 (The American lost in Halle qualifying this year, after going from the qualifying to the semis a year ago (beating Pella and Basilashvili in qualies, and Tsitsipas along the way before Roger Federer beat him in two right sets).

Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR): No. 123 ==========> No. 139

For the full ATP rankings picture, click here.

(Except where indicated, all screenshots from TennisTV)

Murray on the right path after two clutch victories

It appeared, late into the night on Monday at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., and after a long day of waiting, that Andy Murray’s return to action was going to be dealt a setback.

Down a set to young American Mackenzie McDonald, his groundstrokes short and his fuse even shorter, the former world No. 1 appeared on his way out.

But somehow, through a nervy second set and through six blown match points at the very end, Murray closed it out at 12:47 a.m.

On Wednesday, facing the current British No. 1 and No. 4 seed Kyle Edmund in the second round, he had to rise to another big challenge. 

It was one he had already dealt with in his first, brief attempt at a return at Queen’s Club in June. In the second round there, Edmund had posted his first victory over Murray after two losses.

This time, Murray showed his quality in a 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-4 win over the world No. 18.

Murray

And now, it gets interesting.

He faces unseeded Marius Copil of Romania in the third round, after Copil upset No. 14 seed Jérémy Chardy of France in straight sets.

Already, Murray’s ranking has zoomed from its current No. 838 to an unofficial No. 511 with the victory. A win over Copil, and he’ll be about No. 375.

That number doesn’t matter, of course. Murray already has a wild card into next week’s Rogers Cup in Toronto. And he’s likely to get wild cards wherever he needs them, on his path back to the top after hip surgery in January.

Marked difference in presence

The thing about Edmund, as good as he is, is that he almost leaves no imprint upon the matches he plays. That’s not a knock, more an acknowledgement of the fact that he’s just a very quiet man who goes about his business, without a lot of flash or dash.

On Wednesday, Edmund was sort of the canvas, while Murray chucked cans of paint at it to create a colourful piece of art.

Murray was at his chuntering … best … Worst?

Murray

It’s an acquired taste, although it’s always fun to use the word “chuntering” (In Murray’s native land, they use “channer”).

The constant grumbling is classic Murray. For whatever reason, he doesn’t get a lot of stick about how he celebrates his opponents’ errors. Perhaps people understand him well enough by now to have an idea of who he is, and how gracious he is in both wins and losses.

Murray
(Oops. Slipped. Killer humidity).

The brutally hot weather got a few people on Wednesday.

But these two did their level best to push it aside.

While Murray’s movement looked better than it did Monday, he’s obviously still being somewhat careful.

His serve isn’t anywhere near the velocity it was at his peak, either.

And it’s hard to tell if he’s feeling the hip or not.

Like many tennis players, Murray looks like he can barely walk or his feet are on fire between points – only to rev up the jets when he has to run. 

But Murray willed himself to win this one. Not that you needed him to tell you that he’s highly motivated to make it back. He sat, annoyed and frustrated, on the sidelines long enough to give him all the fire he needs to make this happen.

(Screenshots from TennisTV.com)

In the end, Andy Murray is out

WIMBLEDON – Andy Murray tried to be ready for the tournament that means the most to him.

But it seems he ran out of time.

Scheduled to play Benoit Paire of France on Tuesday, Murray pulled the plug Sunday – just a day after indications were that he intended to give it a go.

The best-of-five set format probably was the deciding factor.

Jason Jung of Taiwan (via Torrance, California) will be the lucky loser who takes Murray’s spot in the draw.

“It is with heavy heart that I’m announcing that ‘ll be withdrawing from Wimbledon this year,” he wrote on Facebook.

“I’ve made significant progress in practice and matches over the last ten days, but after lengthy discussions with my team, we’ve decided that playing best of five-set matches might be a bit too soon in the recovery process. We did everything we could to try to be ready in time.”

Highlight of Murray’s season

This is the heart tournament for Murray, who experienced unfathomable pressure every time Wimbledon rolled around, to be the one to break the jinx that had lasted more than 70 years for British players at their home Slam.

Finally, he did it.

And he’s said he always felt a special sort of nervousness, anticipation before this fortnight.

Here’s how he looked Saturday, when he played a practice set with Diego Schwartzman of Argentina.

The Brit played Wimbledon a year ago, knowing he wasn’t in good enough shape to go five sets. And not only did he not win, he ended up not playing the rest of the season. That had to have factored in.

Murray also wrote that he would start practicing on the hard courts right on Monday, with a view to a full return during the U.S. (and Canada) hard-court season.

He has signed on for the ATP 500 level event in Washington, D.C., And he also received a wild card into the Rogers Cup in Toronto.

Meanwhile, he’s for hire.

 

A post shared by Andy Murray (@andymurray) on

No shortage of takers already.  

 

Andy Murray returns after 342 days

If you wanted an ideal set of circumstances to maximize the impact of favorite Brit Andy Murray’s return to tennis after nearly a year, you couldn’t have asked for better.

The 31-year-old playing at home in London, on grass, before a packed house at Queen’s Club nearly unanimously on his side.

And he also was playing Nick Kyrgios.

Murray had never lost to Kyrgios, with whom he has a very congenial rookie-veteran relationship. And very nearly defeated him again.

In the end, the 23-year-old Aussie prevailed 2-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5.

Murray

“I thought I did okay. I certainly could have done some stuff better, at the beginning of the second set I thought my level at times was good; sometimes not so good,” Murray told the media after the match.

“I’m really happy that I got on the match court today and played. It was a close decision. I have not been practising loads at all … I really haven’t played a whole lot of tennis, so I’m happy I got out there and competed and performed respectably.” 

Murray’s double fault was an anticlimactic ending to a match that had far more drama than you might have expected, on some unexpected levels.

A whole lotta chuntering

MurrayBoth players were in peak form in terms of the regular exchanges with their supporters. The Brits have a perfect word for this: chuntering.

There was a whole lot of chuntering, with Kyrgios making clear that whatever was ailing him, it hurt and that he was unclear on quite what to do.

He was waging his own internal battle in addition to dealing with a hip issue.

MurrayKyrgios was trying to beat Murray for the first time in his career. He was wrestling with the possibility of losing to a player who was playing his first match in forever.

Or perhaps with not wanting to show up a player he has a lot of respect for, had Murray’s form not been up to it.

And perhaps he was going back on forth on how his body might hold up even if he did win. To defeat Murray, then withdraw before the next match would be unfortunate for both.

“It was strange because on big points, when I won them, I almost felt bad if I showed any emotion. Like I didn’t really want to get into his grill at all,” Kyrgios said. “But the whole time, it was kind of good to see him back out there, but it was a very awkward match for me because I was thinking the guy hadn’t played a match in a year, and I was getting smoked in the first set. I was, like, this is not going to be a good look if I lose this match.”

Kyrgios has doubles on the docket with his Davis Cup captain, the “retired” Lleyton Hewitt, this week.

My hip’s worse than your hip

MurrayIt was Kyrgios who looked the worse for wear out on the court. It was Kyrgios who limped off after the victory.

“Two-all in the first set, I split-stepped and my hip kind of pinched a little bit and I was dealing with a little bit of pain for the whole match as ridiculous as that sounds because the guy was out from a hip injury (surgery),” Kyrgios said

MurrayAs for Murray? Well, he grabbed his back a few times – a common occurrence for any player getting his body used to the low-bouncing grass.

He actually looked pretty good. But the big test, after a match lasting two hours, 40 minutes, will be how he feels Wednesday morning.

He told the media afterwards that he was uncertain about his next move.

‘I won’t rule anything out just now. I won’t rule out playing Eastbourne and not playing Wimbledon. And I wouldn’t rule out not playing a tournament next week and trying to get matches like in an exhibition tournament, as well, to get ready for Wimbledon,” he said. “‘I’ll kind of need to wait and see what happens the next few days and chat with my team about that, because I don’t know exactly what’s best for me just now.”

Had Murray won, he would have faced a juicy (and too premature) matchup against the current British No. 1, Kyle Edmund.

Instead, it will be Kyrgios against Edmund in a clash of old junior rivals just three months apart in age, and four spots apart in the ATP Tour rankings.

(Screenshots from TennisTV)

ATP Rankings Report – June 11, 2018

At the top of the rankings, the news is that by defending his French Open title, Rafael Nadal will remain No. 1.

Because he had such an off-the-charts clay-court season a year ago, and because he and Roger Federer are so close, points-wise, he went into nearly every tournament during the spring defending that honor.

And he did.

They remain just 100 points apart, with Federer defending last year’s title at Wimbledon, and Nadal defending only round-of-16 points.

On the flip side, check out the two big names at the bottom of the tumblers’ list. Crazy times.

(Check out the ATP Tour website for the full rankings picture).

ON THE UPSWING

rankingsJuan Martin del Potro (ARG): No. 6 ———–> No. 4 (Before his body gave out, the Argentine had a great French Open. And he matches a career high reached all the way back in January, 2010.

Diego Schwartzman (ARG): No. 12 ———–> No. 11 (A career high for the 25-year-old, after a great stay in Paris).

Fabio Fognini (ITA): No. 18 ———–> No. 15 (The Italian’s highest ranking in nearly four years).

Denis Shapovalov (CAN): No. 25 ———–> No. 23 (Another career high for the Canadian teenager, who starts his grass-court season in Stuttgart Monday).

Marco Cecchinato (GER): No. 72 ———–> No. 27 (A breakout event for the Italian, and now he’ll be seeded at Wimbledon, much to his amusement).

Maximilian Marterer (GER): No. 70 ———–> No. 50 (The 22-year-old impressed in defeating Denis Shapovalov and having a nice run in Paris, on his way to a career best).

Mischa Zverev (GER): No. 64 ———–> No. 54

Gilles Simon (FRA): No. 65 ———–> No. 55

Jeremy Chardy (FRA): No. 86———–> No. 72 (A winner at the Surbiton Challenger)

Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA): No. 87 ———–> No. 77 (A third-round effort in singles – and a cherished doubles title at his home Slam and a return to the top 10).

Matteo Berrettini (ITA): No. 96 ———–> No. 80 (A career high for the 22-year-old from Rome)

Alex de Minaur (AUS): No. 105 ———–> No. 96  (The 19-year-old Aussie jumps into the top 100).

Jaume Munar (ESP): No. 155———–> No. 104 (The 21-year-old from Spain impressed in his Roland Garros debut, qualifying and beating countryman David Ferrer in five sets. Then, last week, he won the Prostejov Challenger to follow up).

Bernard Tomic (AUS): No. 206 ———–> No. 181

ON THE DOWNSWING

rankingsRoberto Bautista Agut (ESP): No. 13 ———–> No. 16 (A tough Roland for the Spaniard, who lost his mother just a week before the tournament began. But he showed grit and perseverance).

Milos Raonic (CAN): No. 28 ———–> No. 35 (Raonic missed Rome and the French Open. On the plus side, he’s back this week on the grass).

Gael Monfils (FRA): No. 37 ———–> No. 43

Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR): No. 55———–> No. 62 (Dropping, and pulling out of tournaments again).

Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO): No. 77 ———–> No. 87

Jiri Vesely (CZE): No. 80 ———–> No. 106

Andy Murray (GBR): No. 47 ———–> No. 157 (That’s pretty insane – lowest since July 2005, when he was just 18).

Stan Wawrinka (SUI): No. 30———–> No. 263 (If you thought that was insane … Wawrinka’s lowest ranking since Aug. 2003, when he also was just 18).

The Brotherhood of the (Two) Traveling Lederhosen

Winning the ATP Tour event in Munich is good.

Getting a sweet ride – a BMW i8 roadster – is even better.

The only condition is … you’ve got to put on the lederhosen.

Germany’s Alexander Zverev knows the drill.

With a 6-3, 6-3 victory over two-time champion Philipp Kohlschreiber Sunday, he repeated as champion.

That means two vehicles – and another pair of lederhosen.

(FYI – the retail price of the car starts at … $163,300 US. You can add a $2,500 brake package and $6,300 laser headlights. At that point, might as well, right?)

Zverev lost the first set he played on the week, to countryman Yannick Hanfmann. But he wasn’t troubled the rest of the way. His four victories included an impressive 7-5, 6-2 dispatching of fellow youngster Hyeon Chung of Korea.

This time, the white one

lederhosen

It’s pretty much a first-world problem to already have one major sports car, so the biggest concern is not getting another one in the same colour.

Seriously, isn’t that annoying?

A year ago, the merchant of speed was black.

Fashion-forward in München

If you thought they just stored away the lederhosen for a year until the next edition of the tournament, think again.

Zverev now boasts two pairs, similar, but not identical.

lederhosen

The best part is how the winner did the quick-change right on the court before thousands of fans, and tournament director Patrick Kuhnen peeking over the makeshift change room.

lederhosen
(The on-court change room is a concept that has GOT to find more uses. It might save a lot of time on those endless bathroom breaks, allegedly for ‘change of attire’,and stop us from questioning the TRUE MOTIVES!)

The new tradition of the lederhosen began in 2015, when Andy Murray (who’d probably fancy a kilt, to be honest) needed three hours to defeat Kohlschreiber 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 7-6 (7-4) to win his first career clay-court title at age 27.

It was also the first clay-court title by a Brit in nearly 40 years. So it was certainly worth a pair of lederhosen.

He doesn’t look embarrassed in the least. Then again, he has posed in this

lederhosen
Andy Murray won it in 2015, inaugurating the very German tradition.

Kohlschreiber, who kind of looks a wee bit sheepish most of the time (that’s just his face), didn’t look sheepish at all when he posed for his trophy shot.

In fact, he looked very at home. He really could model in a lederhosen catalogue.

lederhosen
Philipp Kohlschreiber was spared the change of attire when he won it in 2012. But in 2015, when he repeated as champion, he was probably happy to put them on.

The legend of the lederhosen probably guarantees that Rafael Nadal will never play Munich.

NO chance he gets into those without splitting the seams .

Duelling lederhosen

But hmmmmm … Hold the phone.

Now, we’ll grant you it’s a small sample size. But it appears there are two different pairs of lederhosen. So they must rotate them.

But it appears they are indeed recycled.

You have to think they dry-clean them in between, right?

Next year, we suggest the full look – with suspenders. They’re on sale, too.

lederhosen

 

After hip surgery, Andy Murray out until June

Andy Murray will be in Melbourne during the fortnight of the Australian Open after all.

He just won’t be playing tennis.

The 30-year-old Brit did everything he could to avoid having surgery on his ailing hip. But on Monday, he accepted the reality of his situation and ultimately did just that.

After talk of flying home to England to assess his options, one of the best hip surgeons in the world happens to be based in Melbourne.

The surgeon, a pioneer in that specialty named Dr. John O’Donnell, is someone Murray has consulted with about hip issues for a decade.

So the Brit had the operation Monday, a three-hour procedure that will require about two week’s convalescence before he can undertake the long flight home.

There were no details about specifically what the issue is with Murray’s hip, nor specifics about the details of what the surgery involved.

But the news was revealed that Murray also had minor groin surgery surgery in London on Dec. 18, which explained his early departure from a Miami training block and the delay in his original plan to get to Australia well ahead of the Australian Open.

He spoke to the British tennis media from his hospital bed just hours later. Thus is Andy Murray’s life.

Murray certainly appeared to be in great spirits. As difficult as the decision appeared to be, he was positive about the next steps.

 

 

Back for Wimbledon

“I’m very optimistic because, having spoken to the surgeon, he was very happy about how it went. He felt my hip will be feeling better than it did a year ago. I was still doing fine a year ago, ranked No1 in the world,” Murray told the media, including Kevin Mitchell of the Guardian.

Murray said he planned to be back for the British grass-court season, if not before. He’s been given a timetable of about 14 weeks.

And when he does return, Murray said, his focus is going to change. He said he’ll play a more conservative schedule, a “reduced schedule”, focused around the big events and not a quest for the top ranking.

Murray tried the rest and rehab route. But he has found himself over the last six months going to tournament in the hope that he’d be fit enough to play. The US Open was an example of that. So was the Brisbane event last week.

“I was nervous this morning, but it was the right decision to make. I was struggling. I’ve been in pain walking since before Wimbledon. It’s got better but still it’s extremely tiring mentally when every single time you are walking you are feeling your hip, from the first minute that you wake up in the day and start walking to when you lie down at night,” he told the media. “I’m just looking forward to not being in pain.”

Blueprint for the new generation

With so many top players on Tour, most of them having hit the 3-0 mark, on the shelf you get the sense that a more conservative schedule may be the gold standard going forward.

It’s not as though the players are travelling and playing 35-40 weeks a year any more. That hasn’t been the case for a long time.

But with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, Murray, and Kei Nishikori struggling with various body parts – and, indeed, Roger Federer missing half of 2016 because of a knee issue despite not overplaying – it may well become the norm.

The top players don’t need the money. They can afford to pick and choose what tournaments they want to play. And as long as they maximize those tournaments, the rankings will take care of themselves. 

It’s somewhat new territory for tennis. There’s the aging of the stars, the toll of today’s tennis on the body and the motivation to extend careers well past 30.

While the recovery and physical training methods are leagues ahead of what they were in previous generations, the new 30 is … still the old 30.

So the new game plan, so to speak, will be to discover the best formula from the early stages of a career to pay dividends on the back end. And the next generation can learn from how the current group are figuring it out by trial and error.