Andy Murray began this year fearing that the Australian Open might be his last tournament but the 32-year-old Scot could end 2019 playing doubles with his brother Jamie at the new-look Davis Cup Finals in Madrid.
“I would enjoy that for sure,” Murray said on Wednesday at Queen’s Club as he looked forward to his impending return to the court. “They are the kind of things that I would have missed not being able to play. So if I am fit and able I would enjoy that for sure.”
Murray thought his career might be over after struggling for 18 months with a hip injury but had a successful operation at the end of January and has been back practising in recent weeks.
He does not expect to play singles again until after this summer’s US Open but returns to competition in the doubles at next week’s Fever-Tree Championships at Queen’s Club, where he will be playing alongside Spain’s Feliciano Lopez.
He also plans to play doubles at the Nature Valley International at Eastbourne the following week and at Wimbledon, which begins in 19 days’ time. He is likely to play with Lopez at Eastbourne and is still in talks over who his partner will be at Wimbledon, though he will not be playing with Jamie this summer.
“I discussed potentially playing with my brother a month, six weeks ago,” Murray said. “I had barely started hitting balls really at that stage. We spoke about it and I told him that it was not certain that I would be ready to play. I also didn’t want to let him down two minutes before the tournament by saying I couldn’t play and leave him without a partner. I wanted to wait a bit closer to the time before making a decision over whether I was going to play.
“With Feli [Lopez], I was looking at guys to potentially play with in this tournament and ones I would be able to get in with without taking a wild card from one of the other British grass-court teams. Feli is a very good grass-court player and someone I have always got on well with on the tour. He plays good doubles and he is a good partner.”
With Jamie Murray in the draw here next week alongside his new partner, Neal Skupski, Andy was asked about the prospect of facing his brother on the other side of the net.
“If I was playing singles and I played against him it’s a bit more difficult, because my priority at the time would be singles and mentally that’s my brother’s career, so mentally that’s quite a difficult match to play,” Andy said.
“But if I played him here then I’d definitely be trying to win of course. It’s bound to end up happening I’d imagine. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was how the draw came out.”
The Murrays have met across the net as professionals on only one previous occasion. In Montreal four years ago Jamie and John Peers beat Andy and Leander Paes in straight sets.
Murray said he would probably play with Lopez at Eastbourne the week after next, but that might change if the Spaniard does not receive a Wimbledon wild card and has to play in the qualifying tournament at Roehampton. The Scot said he had also been talking to a number of other players about the possibility of playing doubles at Wimbledon.
While he admitted there was always a risk of injury when playing on grass Murray said he would not be playing next week if he felt there was any chance of hurting his hip.
“I was given the go-ahead to play and start moving without restriction four months after the operation, but to progressively build up to try and get back on the singles court,” he said.
“I think doubles is that kind of middle ground where I am getting competitive tennis – obviously not moving quite as much [as playing singles] – but loading on the body is less. You are getting lots of quick, sharp movements, which will hopefully help me later in the year.”
He added: “It’s baby steps just now. I’m feeling good, pretty much pain-free and enjoying just training, practising, improving all the time just now.
“I don’t think when Wimbledon finishes that I will just step on to the singles court the following week and everything’s good. I still have quite a lot of work to do before I’m at a level where I feel like I’ll be able to be competitive.
“At this moment I’ve been progressing all of the time. At some stage it’s probably going to plateau for a while before I’m able to kick on. I hope at some stage this year I would be able to get back to playing singles again. When that is, I’m not really interested in putting a time limit on it, because I’m quite happy just now.
“I don’t need to play singles after Wimbledon or at the US Open. I’m enjoying doing what I’m doing just now. If I can that would be brilliant, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case. I think it’s going to take a bit longer.”
Murray practised singles last week with the American Frances Tiafoe. “I did a singles practice with him but I didn’t play points with him,” he said. “I did a lot of the usual drills I would do if I am going to play singles but I didn’t play a set with him. I did first four shots in the rally, a couple more, but no extended rallies.”
He added: “I have done some singles training drills with my coach. Earlier on I was hitting with singles players, but I was more stationary. I was moving them rather than them moving me about. So, I have not played proper singles-wise yet. I am hoping that will come more after Wimbledon.”
Murray said he expected either Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic to win Wimbledon next month. “I guess it’s possible that some of the guys with huge serves could potentially go on a run and there will maybe be some upsets early on,” he said. “But if those guys are fit and healthy and get through the first few rounds, I would expect one of them to come through.”
The Scot was talking at a Queen’s Club breakfast hosted by Amazon Prime Video, who have joined forces with the world No 1 to create a biennial award to support emerging British talent. One male player and one female player aged between 16 and 20 will receive a total of £60,000 in funding over a two-year cycle. They will be chosen by a selection panel comprising Murray, Tim Henman, Anne Keothavong and Annabel Croft.
Amazon Prime also announced details of an exclusive four-year deal to broadcast the leading Women’s Tennis Association tournaments from next year. With Amazon Prime already holding the rights to the main events on the Association of Tennis Professionals tour, it means that the main men's and women's tournaments will be shown in Britain by the same broadcaster for the first time.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies