Andy Murray looks set for a return to competitive action in three weeks time at the Miami Open in what will be his first appearance of 2020. However, will that be a start of a sustained comeback?
The Scot has been out of action since November, where he competed in the Davis Cup for Great Britain. The 32 year-old has frustratingly been unable to hit at all during the lay-off.
It was initially thought that Murray was diagnosed with a mild bone bruise, but the three-time Grand Slam champion believes the issue is heterotopic ossification, bone growth associated with the hip resurfacing operation he underwent in January 2019.
Murray has been detailing his much anticipated return to action with several clips posted on his social media accounts in the last week, perhaps a sign of his happiness with the recovery. A decision on his availability for the Miami Open is expected within the next week.
There were positive signs last year when Murray made his return to singles at Winston Salem, North Carolina before claiming his first title at the European Open in August.
It promises to be a huge summer of tennis for Murray as he aims to play both Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics. Regardless of victories and success, the ability to play at those events, would certainly cap of a roller coaster ride since the start of 2019 for Murray.
After the hip surgery that took place in 2019, the first steps to recovery produced several doubles appearances starting at Queen’s club. Murray partnered Spaniard Feliciano Lopez on route to a finals victory against fellow Brit Joe Salisbury and American Rajeev Ram.
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It was clear that although Murray was not fit enough to play singles at the time, no talent had declined for the winner of 46 singles titles. Murray then played doubles with Marcelo Melo, before the highly anticipated return to Wimbledon in the mixed doubles with Serena Williams, where they reached the round of 16.
After Murray made his return to singles tournaments at the Winston Salem-Open, where he suffered an opening round defeat to 2020 Australian Open quarter finalist Tennis Sandgren.
He then played another four events before claiming success at the above mentioned European Open in Antwerp, Belgium. A final of sheer grit and unbelievable rallies against Stanislas Wawrinka, saw the Brit recover from a set and break down to clinch a three set win and visibly one of the more emotional victories of his career.
Murray broke down in tears, with the world of tennis showing their support, including Wawrinka who put his disappointment of losing the final to one side for Murray.
This was followed the Davis Cup where Murray only played in one of the matches, as the team led by Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans made the semi-finals before losing to the home nation and eventual champions Spain.
As 2020 got started, pelvic problems put paid to Murray in his search to regain top form. The Scot pulled out of the ATP Cup and subsequently the Australian Open. Murray currently sits 129th in the ATP rankings, seven spots behind another player who has severely struggled with injury in recent years, that being Juan Martin Del Potro.
Like Murray, Del Potro is a former Grand Slam champion who has recovered from various setbacks predominantly to his wrists, to show some of the form fans were accustomed to seeing. However, it hasn’t quite yielded the consistency that the Argentine would have hoped.
That was until October 2018, where Del Potro suffered a fracture to his knee cap in Shanghai. His comeback a few months later was a short one, as aggravated the injury when playing Canada’s Denis Shapovalov on grass in the summer of 2019.
Del Potro has missed all of 2020 tournaments so far and recently underwent another surgery resulting in him being out indefinitely. Another name is Kei Nishikori, the former world number four has been out of action since the US Open last year due to an elbow injury.
The Japanese star has had prior injuries and returned to the sport to win tournaments and claim his best ever ATP ranking, and while injuries can be overcome as various players have demonstrated, these examples show the difficulty of recovering fully to sustain longevity at the highest level.
Like Murray, the Japanese star is on course to return in late March as he too, looks to put injury fears to rest.
Murray will hope his comeback starting in Miami, can be beginning to regaining the form that made him one of the greatest players to ever grace the sport. With his closest rivals from past seasons in Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and the unbeaten in 2020 Novak Djokovic still performing at an elite level, motivation will certainly be there for Murray to rediscover his best Tennis going forward.