'Pain free' Andy Murray confirms his intention to return to tennis

Andy Murray claims that he's ready to return to action. Photo by TPN/Getty Images

Andy Murray said on Wednesday he hopes to return to the tennis Tour -- perhaps as soon as Wimbledon - but still does not know if it will possible.

The Scot, who had his right hip resurfaced in an operation on January 28, said he is pain-free and that his rehabilitation is going well. But just five weeks into his recovery, it is too soon to know if and when he will be able to play at the top level again.

"I want to continue playing," Murray said at London's Queen's Club. "I said that in Australia. The issue is I don't know whether it's going to be possible.

"I'm a lot happier now than I was certainly in the last 12 months since I had the (original hip) operation (in January 2018). I have no pain in my hip anymore. I was in a lot of pain for a long time. The rehab is slow but it's going pretty well. I just need to wait and see how it's going to progress but if it's possible I'd certainly love to compete again."

In a separate interview with the BBC, Murray said his chances of playing singles at Wimbledon this summer were "probably less than 50 percent". Speaking to UK newspaper reporters, Murray said he could test himself in doubles, if he was not ready for singles.

"It's a possibility but it is not an aim," he said. "My goal isn't to be back playing tennis for Wimbledon. If things were going really well and I was continuing to progress but I didn't just feel I was quite ready, then surely it makes sense for me to wait and potentially play longer than for one tournament rather than being: 'OK, I need to rush back because it's Wimbledon', it is a little bit too soon and I screw things up and waste the last five, six months of rehab.

"It is not my aim but if I could play at Wimbledon, I would love to. Of course, it is my favourite tournament to play. It's a possibility that if I'm not ready to play singles that (playing doubles at Wimbledon) might be a way of testing myself out to see how I'm feeling. It's not something I would do long term but it's a possible stepping stone to getting back to playing singles again."

Murray was speaking shortly after a press conference to announce a long-term deal with sportswear brand Castore. Murray will also become a shareholder in the company and wear their clothing on and off the court. Partnering with brands that share his values of hard work and commitment may prove to be part of his future after tennis, but the 31-year-old is hopeful that he is not done with his rackets just yet.

The former world No 1 later told Sky News that he would probably know within seven or eight months whether he has a realistic chance to come back, and to what level. But he said regardless of what happens, he would not rush into anything.

"In terms of a time-frame, I don't want (to set) a definitive time to try to rush back," he said. "This is a big surgery and operation that I've had. I need to be smart with that and see how it progresses. So far, it's been good. The main reason for me having the operation was to not be in pain anymore, and I'm not. I'm delighted with that, really happy with that. What happens next, I don't know exactly. I will do the best I can and see what is possible.

In January, Murray had said he was planning to quit after this year's Wimbledon, but he then left the door open for a potential return, deciding to have a hip resurfacing operation on Jan 28. No stone will be left unturned and Murray said he is doing up to seven hours per day of rehabilitation work. If there's a way back, then there's no doubt that Murray will do everything required to give himself a chance.

"Yesterday, for example, I did 45 minutes of my physio, I then did an hour in the swimming pool, I then did weights for an hour with 15-20 minutes of cardio on a bike and the cross-trainer, then I went home and I've got one of those AlterG machines at my house to help with my walking," Murray said.

"I've been limping for 18 months and even now that I don't have pain, when I walk now, my initial thought when I stand up from this chair will be to limp. So I need to work on that all the time. I'm doing (about) 40 minutes of walking each day on this machine which allows you to adjust your body-weight, so I'm walking at like 85-90 per cent of my body weight now which is good. I'm walking quite well with that.

"Then I went back in the pool, did half hour in the pool and some more exercises for about 45 minutes or so to try to work on my range of motion. That's the thing that's hardest to get back if you leave that at the beginning and don't take care of that. The strength I can build up over a longer period but if I just sat and didn't work on the range of motion, my hip would just stiffen up and everything around it. So I need to work on that quite a lot. That's quite uncomfortable. The other stuff is actually OK but the range of motion is pretty uncomfortable."

The successful return to action this year of doubles star Bob Bryan, who had the same operation last summer, has given Murray cause for optimism. But the former world No 1 knows that regaining the full movement required for singles is that much more difficult than in doubles.

"There is a huge difference between the two in terms of the loads you put on the body and the stresses you put on the joints," Murray said. "It's not quite the same but it shows that there is a level that you can get to and it's just whether or not I can do better than that."