Andy Murray is preparing to return to the court following hip surgery and could be back in match action before the grass-court season starts.
The former world number one went under the knife in Melbourne last month after being sidelined since Wimbledon due to the problem in his right hip.
There were serious fears for his career when he abandoned an attempt to come back at the Brisbane International at the start of January and then wrote a heartfelt post on Instagram.
He was much more upbeat following surgery, however, and targeted a return on the grass in June.
It now appears he could even be back before then, although whether he would want to subject his body to the rigours of clay at, for example, the French Open, appears highly doubtful.
Murray’s likely comeback tournament looked set to be Queen’s, which begins on June 18, although there are ATP Tour events on grass the previous week in Germany and Holland, while he could even choose to play one or more of the lower-tier British tournaments.
Murray is now back working hard in the gym and has been doing regular Pilates sessions ahead of an anticipated return to on-court training towards the end of March.
Having had to abort planned comebacks at the US Open last summer and then in Australia, Murray does not want to push too hard and will have to see how his hip copes with being back on the court.
He is planning to head to sunnier climes for a warm-weather training camp once he has returned to on-court training.
The 30-year-old first began to struggle with the problem during his run to the semi-finals of the French Open last summer and he then limped through Wimbledon, losing in the last eight to Sam Querrey.
He had hoped rest and non-surgical treatment would cure the problem, but that did not turn out to be the case and he was left with little choice but to have the operation.
Murray has slipped to 21st in the rankings and will lose the British number one spot on Monday for the first time in a decade when his points for winning last year’s Dubai Championships drop off, allowing Kyle Edmund to leapfrog him.
He is likely to be ranked outside the top 100 when he does finally return to action, although he will be able to enter tournaments using a protected ranking.
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