Last month, Andy Murray admitted there was less than a 50% chance of him recovering from hip surgery in time to play singles at Wimbledon this year. However, just a few days ago, Murray posted a video on social media of him gingerly hitting some balls in practice. It would take some intense rehabilitation to have him in tip-top shape to compete within two months’ time.

Nevertheless, it is great to see the 31-year-old Scot moving freely – albeit tentatively – on court once again though. He confirmed that he is now pain-free, with the surgery deemed a success to enable him to return to competitive action in the long run. Having enjoyed a glittering tennis career to date, spanning two Olympic gold medals and 45 men’s singles titles, Murray is keen not to put himself under any pressure to return or perform by a set date; particularly given that he was this close to retiring altogether in January.

Could doubles be the route to Wimbledon 2019 for Murray?

The realistic view on the tennis trading floor is that the Scotsman simply won’t have had enough matches in his legs to compete at the level he would like at this year’s Wimbledon. He could even be a handicap bet. However, Murray has mooted the mouth-watering prospect of teaming up with his older brother, Jamie, in the men’s doubles. Given that doubles would halve the physical strain on Andy’s body, he recently said to ITV that it was “not completely unreasonable” that he could partner his brother – a two-time Grand Slam double champion – at SW19.

If Andy Murray continues on the right path, he will become the first professional tennis star to play top-level singles tennis with a metal hip. Murray eventually opted against using surgeon, Dr Edwin Su, who was highly-recommended by doubles tennis icon, Bob Bryan. He used consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Sara Muirhead-Allwood, who confirmed the surgery took twice as long as initially planned due to the core strength of Murray’s femur.

Murray admitted that he had “spoken to a lot of people, different specialists and surgeons” about his hip resurfacing procedure. He felt that, after speaking to Dr Muirhead-Allwood, he was in good, honest hands. “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,” he said.

Murray has the character and temperament to get back to the top

Murray on court at his most tenacious best [Photo by Carine06 // CC BY-SA 2.0]

Even for a neutral, it was painful to watch Murray battling his hip discomfort during January’s Australian Open. Murray demonstrated tremendous character and will-power – some of the traits that took him to the world number one spot – in his five-set defeat to Spaniard, Roberto Bautista Agut. After losing the first two sets, few anticipated Murray to rally and take the contest into a fourth set, let alone a deciding fifth. But rally he did, before fading in the final set and departing the court to rapturous applause from the Melbourne crowd that wondered whether they would ever see Murray in action again.

Murray only has to look at one of his biggest nemeses on-court for inspiration that it is possible to scale the same heights after a lengthy injury lay-off. Novak Djokovic, has returned back to the world number one spot after enduring his own injury nightmare. The 31-year-old Serbian suffered with a troublesome elbow injury and took five months out at the end of 2017 to let the problem fully recover. However, a string of early exits from ATP events in early 2018 led to further arm surgery and time out. However, by the end of that year, Djokovic had regained both the US Open and Wimbledon titles and made it a record-breaking seventh Australian Open title in January. Djokovic recently described his injury torment as a “major turning point” in his life “from a personal and professional point of view”. Murray has a good friendship with Djokovic, which has developed having battled through the junior ranks together on tour. He will hope to be able to try and knock Novak off his perch but, one thing is for sure, he won’t be putting any pressure on himself to do so this year.

Photo by jay galvin // CC BY 2.0