Murray will return for Australian Open claims tournament director
Andy Murray will take his place in the draw for the Australian Open next January, according to the tournament director.
The five-time runner-up in Melbourne has been out injured since he exited Wimbledon with a hip injury in July having made the decision to take the remainder of the season off for his recovery.
The British number one’s future in the sport has even been brought into question as a result of the injury with fans fearing that he may struggle to recapture his form and fitness.
But the Australian Open’s tournament director Craig Tiley is adamant that Murray, along with Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori who have also struggled through persistent injuries, will be fit and firing come January for the first Grand Slam of the season.
“I’m very happy to confirm that all the top players will be back in Melbourne in January,” Tiley said at the tournament’s launch, streamed on Twitter.
“On the men’s side, there has been a lot of concern and conjecture around Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Kei Nishikori.
“I can tell you that in talking to Andy, he has been training and he is preparing for having a great year in 2018.
“As competitive as Andy is, we know he’s back and he’ll want to improve his current ranking of number three in the world and getting back to number one.”
Meanwhile, Serena Williams also appears set to return to Melbourne Park to defend the title she won in Melbourne while eight weeks pregnant.
Tiley described Serena as having a “special relationship” with the Australian Open, and very much expects the 35-year-old to be ready to go come January.
“Serena, the competitor that she is, she wants to win more than the 23 Grand Slam titles that she has,” he said.
Tiley’s announcement comes a month after Serena’s coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, exclusively told Eurosport at the US Open that she was targeting her return for being in time for Melbourne.
Additionally, Tiley confirmed the prize money for next year’s tournament will rise by 10 per cent to 55 million Australian dollars (£32.5 million), with the men and women’s champions earning 4 million Australian dollars (£2.3 million).