Andy Murray has opened up on his return to tennis after being plagued by injuries to the point he considered retiring.
The two-time Wimbledon champion was forced to admit before the 2019 Australian Open his hip had been causing him serious problems for three years. As a result, he had a hip resurfacing operation in a bid to rid him of his pain.
Remarkably and despite most thinking he wouldn’t, it seemed he could potentially be able to get back to his former glory after the procedure, and in June 2019, he lifted the doubles trophy with Feliciano López at London Queen’s Club.
The singles matches haven’t been as easy, and just one month after winning at the European Open in October 2019, he suffered a pelvic injury that forced him to withdraw from the Australian Open 2020.
He originally planned to make yet another comeback in Miami this year, telling Amazon Prime Video: “I’m training to try and get ready for Miami. I’ve done so much rehab these last few months that, in terms of my strength and everything, all of the muscles around the hip are working well, it’s just I hadn’t played tennis.
“I’d hit like twice since Davis Cup for like 40 minutes in a three-month period so I need some time to build up and feel good on the court again. That’s my plans just now unless I have a setback or something.”
And sadly, that setback was completely out of his – and everyone’s – hands, as the coronavirus pandemic hit, meaning the UK was on lockdown – tennis tournaments simply weren’t viable.
But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and now the lockdown is easing and group sports are returning, Murray is back on the court with his brother and other high-flying UK players in the Schroders Battle of the Brits tournament, set up by Jamie Murray.
With all eyes on how he’s feeling after an admittedly long rest period, how’s his injury doing?
Speaking to the Radio Times magazine, Andy revealed: “I was going to see how I felt in Miami. It’s never the same in practice because you don’t push yourself as hard as you do in matches. Also, you can give yourself a rest if you need it, or avoid doing particular things if they’re giving you trouble.
“So it’ll be great for me to play here [Battle of the Brits] and really test it out. I’ve been feeling well physically. I’m in good shape, I’m strong. I just have to hope the hip holds up.”
It’s a good test for Andy, considering the world of tennis is tentatively restarting, with the US Open planned to go ahead at the end of August, albeit behind closed doors.
In the Battle of the Brits, Andy will go up against the best male players the UK has to offer, including Liam Broady, Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans.
Sadly, spectators aren’t allowed at the event, on account of the social distancing restrictions, but the whole tournament is on Amazon Prime for tennis fans to pour over. And it’s all for a good cause too, as the Battle of the Brits is aiming to raise at least £100,000 for NHS Charities Together.
It’s going to be a little different for fans as well – gone are the polite handshakes of yore and in a move which is most surprising, players will have to collect their own balls.
It’s all part of the experience, says Andy: “Playing without fans isn’t the same. But in these times, that’s also where we can add something new and interesting. Events now need to find different ways of engaging the public and the viewers.
“All the guys at the event know each other so we’ll be able to chat during matches, and we’ll be wearing heart-rate monitors. Might make it a little bit more interesting than the usual events you see on TV.”
The tournament kicked off yesterday (23rd June) and saw every competitor on the court for shorter matches.
Andy faced Liam Broady in his first match and won 6-2 6-2, sailing through to the second round. He is currently tied at first place with Kyle Edmund.
For the full, exclusive interview and (socially distanced) photo shoot with Andy and Jamie Murray, see inside this week’s issue of Radio Times. Available now, this week’s issue also includes features on the BBC’s virtual Glastonbury experience, reliving Wimbledon’s greatest hits and the latest Streaming and Listings picks for your weekend. Plus how to get your copy of Radio Times with our flexible subscription options: https://www.radiotimes.com/magazine-subscription/
Schroders Battle of the Brits is currently airing on Amazon Prime. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide.