Andy Murray has not ruled out playing at Wimbledon this summer but will only take to the courts at the All England Club if he feels completely ready.
The two-time Wimbledon champion was speaking at Queen’s Club five weeks after his hip resurfacing operation at the launch of a long-term partnership with British clothing brand Castore.
Murray said: “It’s possible. In terms of time-frame, I don’t want a definitive time to try to rush back. This is a big surgery and operation that I’ve had. I need to be smart with that and see how it progresses. So far, it’s been good.
“The main reason for me having the operation was to not be in pain anymore, and I’m not. I’m delighted with that. What happens next, I don’t know exactly. I will do the best I can and see what is possible.
“If I could play at Wimbledon, I would love to. Of course it is my favourite tournament to play. But I would hate to go on the court at Wimbledon and for something bad to happen. Or to feel really bad and apprehensive and for it to go really badly.”
Murray laid bare his struggles at a tearful press conference ahead of the Australian Open, announcing he was planning to retire after this summer’s Wimbledon but that the Melbourne tournament might be the last of his career.
That may yet turn out to be the case but Murray, who has been battling the problem since the summer of 2017, will attempt to break new ground by returning to top-level singles action with a metal hip.
He had a first operation in January 2018 and returned to action at Queen’s Club last summer but played only six tournaments last season and was in pain throughout.
He is still limping and part of a daily five-hour rehab schedule is walking on an anti-gravity treadmill to try to erase that from his gait. Attempting to improve his range of movement, which he described as “quite uncomfortable”, is central to the process.
He is hoping to begin hitting balls on court from a stationary position in four weeks’ time and expects to know at the end of May – when he can attempt high-impact exercise – whether his intention to return to professional tennis will be possible.
He said: “If I am much slower than I was, let’s say, in Australia, I am not just going to go and play if I can’t move properly. I want to be able to run around like I used to.”
The operation was performed at the Princess Grace Hospital in Marylebone by consultant orthopaedic surgeon Sarah Muirhead-Allwood – taking more than twice as long as expected because of the strength of the Scot’s femur.
Murray is the first current top-level athlete Dr Muirhead-Allwood has performed the operation on, with the Scot deciding against using Dr Edwin Su, who came highly recommended by Bob Bryan.
American doubles specialist Bryan returned to the sport in Australia having undergone the same surgery, and Dr Su told the Mail on Sunday he believed he could help Murray return to the top.
But it was Dr Muirhead-Allwood’s refusal to offer such projections that helped Murray make his decision, with the 31-year-old saying: “Over this period, I’ve spoken to a lot of people, different specialists and surgeons. They told me things were going to turn out better than what they had.
“I felt speaking to her, she told me the truth. I didn’t want to be told, ‘You’re going to come back and win Wimbledon in five months, and it’s going to be perfect’. Because I know that it’s not the case, and that nobody in their right mind could promise me that.
“Bob Bryan has come back and is doing good, but that’s doubles and there is a huge difference between the two in terms of the loads you put on the body and the stresses you put on the joints. But it shows that there is a level that you can get to and it’s just whether or not I can do better than that.”
Murray admitted in Australia that he struggled simply to put his socks and shoes on, and the priority was improving his quality of life and being able to enjoy everyday activities with his two young daughters.
Asked whether proving people wrong was a driving force, Murray replied: “I think throughout large parts of my career that’s something that motivated me a lot, but that really hasn’t in this. It’s just I really like playing tennis.”