Mur­ray gets back to work ahead of Fed­erer in Glas­gow

Scot hit­ting again af­ter a month nurs­ing hip is­sue Swiss to pro­vide the test in Scot­tish show­case

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By Si­mon Briggs TEN­NIS COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Andy Mur­ray is back hit­ting balls at the All Eng­land Club, sources have con­firmed, af­ter a four-week pe­riod of rest and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion in the wake of his failed at­tempt to par­tic­i­pate in the US Open.

The prac­tices are un­der­stood to be not too in­tense, but there is a date in mind: Nov 7, when Mur­ray is due to face Roger Fed­erer in an ex­hi­bi­tion match – Andy Mur­ray Live – at Glas­gow’s SSE Hy­dro.

Nor­mally, such an un­of­fi­cial show­case would be a bit of a hi­tand-gig­gle, with both play­ers try­ing to set each other up for eye-catch­ing shots. Yet this is likely to be dif­fer­ent – a telling mo­ment for Mur­ray, who has not played on the ATP tour since he broke down phys­i­cally in his Wim­ble­don quar­ter-fi­nal against Sam Quer­rey.

In all prob­a­bil­ity, he will ap­proach the ex­hi­bi­tion with in­ten­sity. That way, he can use Andy Mur­ray Live as a barom­e­ter of where his body is, ahead of his planned come­back at Bris­bane in the first week of the new year.

It is not so much his per­for­mance that will con­cern him, more the way he re­cov­ers from the ex­er­tion. Back­ing your per­for­mances up, day af­ter day, is usu­ally the hard­est thing for any age­ing player to do – although Roger Fed­erer and Rafael Nadal ap­pear to be buck­ing that long-es­tab­lished rule.

Mur­ray is still deal­ing with the chronic hip prob­lem that be­came a se­ri­ous hand­i­cap in the wake of his run to the semi-fi­nal of the French Open in early June. He has seen more than half-a-dozen spe­cial­ists, but re­mains of the opin­ion that he can re­turn to top-level ten­nis with­out surgery. Should he be forced to go un­der the knife, he would prob­a­bly be out for six months, and then per­haps take an­other year to re­dis­cover his best form. By which time he would be push­ing 32.

Af­ter a night­mar­ish year in which Mur­ray has suf­fered an at­tack of shin­gles, a dam­aged el­bow ten­don and this hip is­sue, it is worth look­ing back at an in­ter­view he gave to the BBC on the eve of Wim­ble­don.

“I know some of the play­ers have been do­ing re­ally well un­til their mid-30s re­cently,” Mur­ray said, “but that might not be the case with me. Maybe the next cou­ple of years are the last few where I have a chance to com­pete for the ma­jors and the big­gest tour­na­ments.”

The next part of the in­ter­view – in which Mur­ray said “I don’t know how long I’m go­ing to be play­ing for any more; I want to make the most of ev­ery tour­na­ment” – may help to ex­plain why he was so de­ter­mined to at­tempt an ap­pear­ance at the US Open.

By trav­el­ling to New York a week early, and putting him­self through gru­elling prac­tice ses­sions, Mur­ray is un­der­stood to have re­jected the ad­vice of his med­i­cal team. They would have pre­ferred him to make a clean break af­ter Wim­ble­don, tak­ing the rest of the year off in an echo of Fed­erer’s 2016 sea­son.

While Mur­ray’s aborted US Open cam­paign may have set him back, his re­cent re­turn to the prac­tice court does at least put him on track to fea­ture in Bris­bane. Should he go on to miss that planned come­back date, it re­ally will be time to worry.

Mean­while, the other Bri­tish No1, Jo­hanna Konta, has nar­rowly failed to qual­ify for the WTA Fi­nals in Sin­ga­pore for the sec­ond suc­ces­sive year, af­ter she an­nounced her with­drawal from next week’s Krem­lin Cup in Moscow with a foot prob­lem.

Konta’s foot is­sue is not thought to be se­ri­ous, and she has one more de­ci­sion to make this sea­son: whether to play in the WTA Elite Tro­phy in Zhuhai – a tour­na­ment for the next-best eight play­ers who fail to make it to Sin­ga­pore – or travel to the WTA Fi­nals as an in­jury back-up.

Come­back trial: Andy Mur­ray hopes to be com­pet­i­tive for the Aus­tralian Open

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