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ANDY MUR­RAY is hop­ing to put his in­jury woes be­hind him in the first Grand Slam of the ten­nis sea­son

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AF­TER WITH­DRAW­ING FROM last year’s Aus­tralian Open just days be­fore the tour­na­ment was due to be­gin, the last 12 months have been the hard­est of Andy Mur­ray’s ca­reer.

The 31-year-old Scot went un­der the knife last Jan­uary in a bid to solve a chronic hip prob­lem, but the re­cov­ery has gone slower than he’d hoped and the three-time Grand Slam cham­pion is now ranked a lowly 257th in the world.

Yet, de­spite his dif­fi­cul­ties, the for­mer Bri­tish num­ber one is de­ter­mined to hit the come­back trail on the hard courts of Mel­bourne over the next two weeks and be­lieves the work he’s been do­ing with noted re­con­di­tion­ing coach Bill Knowles will pay off.

‘I’m feel­ing phys­i­cally a lit­tle bit bet­ter ev­ery day,’ says Mur­ray.‘it’s ob­vi­ously been a tough year with the hip in­jury and the surgery, but I’m get­ting closer. I’ve been prac­tis­ing for the last cou­ple of months to get in the best shape pos­si­ble.


‘I’ve done my off-sea­son train­ing in Mi­ami and spent four or five weeks over in Philadel­phia do­ing off-court train­ing. Then in De­cem­ber I was back in Mi­ami to do three or four weeks of train­ing in the hot con­di­tions to get ready for the heat in Mel­bourne.’

Mur­ray has been a de­feated Aus­tralian Open fi­nal­ist five times, but will be de­lighted just to reach the lat­ter stages of this year’s tour­na­ment. Not only is he lack­ing sharp­ness, but as an un­seeded player he could be handed some tough match-ups in the early rounds.

World num­ber one Novak Djokovic is hot favourite to take the ti­tle, but reign­ing cham­pion Roger Fed­erer, 2009 win­ner Rafael Nadal and young Ger­man Alexan­der Zverev should push him hard.

Bri­tish fans will also be look­ing out for cur­rent Bri­tish num­ber one, Kyle Ed­mund, 24, who reached the semi-fi­nals last year.


Mean­while, the tus­sle for the women’s ti­tle is set to be even more cap­ti­vat­ing, with Serena Williams hop­ing to win her first Grand Slam since giv­ing birth to her daugh­ter, Alexis, in 2017. If she suc­ceeds, she’ll draw level with Mar­garet Court’s record of 24 Grand Slams.

Yet, while Williams is the book­ies’ favourite, a host of chal­lengers, in­clud­ing Si­mona Halep, An­gelique Ker­ber, Gar­biñe Mugu­ruza and Elina Svi­tolina, await.

Be­neath them, a new gen­er­a­tion of tal­ent, headed by play­ers such as Naomi Osaka and Sloane Stephens, have also shown they are ca­pa­ble of win­ning Grand Slam ti­tles. With Bri­tish star Jo­hanna Konta and for­mer cham­pion Maria Shara­pova, who’s try­ing to re­build her ca­reer fol­low­ing a drug ban, also in the mix, Serena might be fac­ing her big­gest chal­lenge yet.

ANDY MUR­RAY RE­TURNS FROM IN­JURY Novak DjokovicThe Serb is hop­ing to clinch his sev­enth Aus­tralian Open ti­tle. Alexan­der ZverevRis­ing Ger­man star Zverev reached the third round last year. Kyle Ed­mundThe Bri­tish num­ber one lost to Marin Cilic at the semi-fi­nal stage in 2018.Serena Williams The Amer­i­can is chas­ing her 24th Grand Slam ti­tle.WATCH OUT FOR...

Naomi Osaka Ja­panese star Osaka won her first Grand Slam ti­tle – the US Open – in 2018.

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