Andy Murray wants to enjoy playing again as he returns to competitive tennis this week at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp for the first time since Wimbledon.
The 2016 year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings was forced to shut down his 2017 ATP World Tour season after Wimbledon due to a hip injury. The Scot has seen his ranking drop to No. 16, his lowest position since May 2008.
Still recovering from the hip troubles that forced him to miss the second half of the 2017 season, Murray expressed his desire to get back to playing matches on the ATP World Tour.
“I want to enjoy playing again. I've really missed it the last six months or so.
“I just want to be able to play tennis. I don't mind if it's No. 30 in the world level. I would love it to be No. 1 in the world level, but I just want to play. When that's taken away from you, you realise how important it is,” he said.
Murray, a two-time champion in Brisbane (2012-13), has a perfect 9-0 record at the Queensland event. And both triumphs led to appearances in the latter stages of the Australian Open. In 2012, Murray reached the semi-final in Melbourne before falling to Novak Djokovic, and in 2013, the Scot made the Australian Open final before again coming up short against Djokovic.
Despite concerns surrounding Murray’s troublesome hip, the second seed in Brisbane expressed confidence about his ability to take to the court against the winner of Monday’s first-round match between Ryan Harrison and Leonardo Mayer.
“Unless something happens the next couple of days that goes wrong, I don't see myself not playing because of my hip right now,” Murray said. “What I feel is that I need to play matches to see exactly where it's at. Kind of practising and stuff and doing everything in the gym is great but playing matches is what I need.”
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The 45-time tour-level champion finds himself in a similar position to where he was four years ago, when he started his 2014 season. Murray was looking to regain form and fitness after back surgery brought his 2013 campaign to an early conclusion.
Now, at the age of 30, Murray revealed he may take a new approach to his 2018 schedule and beyond to preserve his health and increase longevity.
“At the end of the day, health is the most important thing… giving yourself breaks, especially as you start to get older, I think, is very important and something that I'll certainly be looking to do for however long I keep playing.
“I'll probably make some changes to my schedule this year. I'll certainly play less than I have in the past to give my body time to rest and recover, which maybe I haven't done.
“I wouldn't say I necessarily played loads of tournaments or overplayed, but just the way the schedule is there's not lots of breaks in the year. So I'll probably change my schedule a bit this year.”