Novak Djokovic is relishing the chance to renew his rivalry with Andy Murray.
Murray is making his long-awaited return at the Fever-Tree Championships at Queen’s Club this week after 11 months out with a hip injury.
The Scot had several aborted comebacks, having limped out of Wimbledon last July before going under the knife in January.
The pair, born just a week apart in 1987, have been long-time adversaries on court and have battled at the top of the men’s game for much of the last decade, competing in 19 finals, including seven at Grand Slams.
Djokovic has also suffered from injury problems over the last 18 months, which saw him undergo elbow surgery, and is excited for the Briton’s return.
“I wish him all the best, I really do, tennis misses him, he is a great champion, a great guy, really dedicated, hard working, great ethics,” the Serbian, who is also playing at Queen’s, said.
“I really hope to see him back playing at that level he has played over the last couple of years.
“I have known him since we were 11 or 12 years old, I have always had a wonderful relationship with Andy, never experienced anything negative, we have been and still are big rivals on the court and we have had so many great matches, he deserves the chance to come back.
“Coming back from a major injury inspires you, you are breathing a new breath of life. I am sure he is more motivated than ever.”
Murray practised with British number two Cameron Norrie on Friday before deciding to play in a tournament he has won five times.
Norrie said of the two-set informal match: “I played flat out, it was a proper match and we went at it and there was no mercy.
“He is playing well, he obviously hasn’t played many matches so a couple of points he wasn’t quite at it, but he is hitting the ball well and moving great and everyone is pretty pleased to have him back.”
Murray has chosen a tough tournament in which to make his comeback, with a particularly strong field of players who enjoy the grass.
As well as three-time Wimbledon champion Djokovic, there is also 2016 and 2017 SW19 runners-up Milos Raonic and Marin Cilic, along with 2014 Queen’s winner Grigor Dimitrov.
Aside from Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, it has been Cilic who has been the best performer at the biggest tournaments since the fall of Murray and Djokovic and he hopes to muscle in on the number one ranking.
He said: “The ultimate goal is to reach number one.
“That’s my goal in terms of my tennis results and looking ahead for my improvement.
“That would mean I would have to win a couple of grand slams. You can’t actually be number one without winning those big tournaments so that’s a big focus and big goal.”