Comment & Analysis @RazMirza
Andy Murray's comeback gives hope after 'life-changing' hip surgery
Andy Murray's back, but not as we know him. Now pain-free, he was moving fine, serving well and volleying like a doubles specialist
Last Updated: 21/06/19 3:51pm
Andy Murray's comeback at Queen's Club has given British tennis aficionados genuine hope that he will return to his Grand Slam winning best in time, writes Raz Mirza at Queen's Club.
The former world No 1 was smiling and succeeding upon his return to competitive action just 143 days after undergoing hip surgery in a bid to save his career.
When Murray broke down in tears at the Australian Open, fearing his career was close to being ended through injury, the chances of seeing the two-time Wimbledon champion back at the All England Club looked remote to say the least.
The 32-year-old Scot posted a few Instagram story clips of himself teeing off on the golf course and then practising his serve on grass. Then came the news that he would be making his comeback at Queen's Club.
He successfully linked up with Feliciano Lopez on Thursday as the pair put on a professional display to defeat Colombian duo Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, who did not know what had hit them.
It may have been a tentative comeback but a bumper Centre Court crowd was treated to some vintage Murray as the five-time Queen's singles champion and his Spanish partner ran out 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 winners.
"It was brilliant, I enjoyed it a lot," Murray said. "I'm really fortunate to be playing tennis again. I absolutely love playing on
this court, it's a brilliant place to play."
On the court all eyes were on the way Murray moved, even if the positioning, understandably, went awry occasionally. He got up after one slip at the net to twist and attempt a backhand smash with no obvious discomfort.
There were some lovely disguised volleys at the net, and a flashing forehand winner, with a little help from the net tape, to clinch the first-set tie-break. Murray never dropped serve, although his second serve was understandably a little shaky when his feet collapsed underneath him when leaning forward a little too much into the ball toss on a couple of occasions.
Murray was clearly a man just happy to be back on a tennis court, smiling at every high-five with Lopez between points. Nor was this an exhibition, though. Murray wanted to win this one and the familiar fist pump followed another athletic backhand winner as the fledgling partnership, who had never played together, and had barely trained together, knocked out the top seeds. Somehow they clicked.
Crucially, Murray felt in good shape afterwards, with no pain whatsoever in his hip. During his press conference Murray said he feels "optimistic" about his future and so he should.
"I have zero discomfort in my hip, like, nothing. And if I had done this last year, you know, I'd be here aching, throbbing, and feel bad the next day," he said.
"So I'll just keep pushing and see how it goes. But I feel optimistic about the future. I don't know how long it will take to get to that level, but, you know, hopefully not too long."
He also announced that France's Pierre-Hugues Herbert will be his Wimbledon partner. The 28-year-old is ranked 43 in singles and he has solid pedigree in men's doubles having won four Grand Slam titles alongside his fellow countryman Nicolas Mahut - most notably at Wimbledon in 2016 and at this year's Australian Open. The Scot appears to have made a very wise selection.
The spotlight will be on the men's doubles like never before at the All England Club, especially if the draw throws up a meeting with brother Jamie.
Murray is keen to enter the mixed doubles as well, but has yet to find a partner.
"I would like to, yeah," he said. "I have spoken to a couple of players but I've been rejected a couple of times so far."
French Open champion Ashleigh Barty has already turned him down while Australia's Casey Dellacqua said she would come out of retirement and Barty's former doubles partner CoCo Vandeweghe, sidelined due to injuries, also offered her assistance.
"Available, and lacing up, @andy_murray," said 75-year-old multiple Grand Slam champion Billie Jean King on Twitter, while former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova retweeted a video of her in mixed doubles action, saying: "I heard @andy_murray was looking for a mixed dubs partner. Thanks @usopen for sending in my resume today."
Britain's Naomi Broady was ready to leave her own brother and doubles partner Liam behind and ride to the Scot's rescue. "I would totally ditch my own flesh and blood AKA @Liambroady to play with you." #SORRYBRO #LOVEYOU
Barbora Strycova, ranked fourth in women's doubles, said she would not make the "same mistake" as her fellow peers.
"Hey, @andymurray I heard rumors that you got rejected by my fellow players a couple of times when finding a partner for mixed doubles in Wimbledon," she wrote on Instagram. "I swear I wouldn't do the same mistake like them."
The likes of Kiki Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia are names that are likely to be in the frame and there won't be a shortage of stars coming forward to throw their hat into the ring seeing that Murray is a hugely popular figure among WTA players due to his stance on gender equality.
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