Andy Murray’s battle to regain full fitness has taken another worrying turn and his quest to return full-time to the Tour must be in serious doubt.
Having decided before Christmas to pull out of the Australian Open, the 32-year-old has now withdrawn from two tournaments in Europe next month that were seen as key moments in his stuttering comeback.
“The bone bruising is taking longer to heal than first thought, so I won’t be playing in Montpellier or Rotterdam in February,” the former world No 1 said from his Surrey home on Thursday night.
Murray, who pulled out of his Australian trip at the last minute – also missing the ATP Cup in Sydney – will be more concerned than he admits about the bruising in his right thigh bone, where he had a metal insert last year to repair his chronically painful hip.
He has not played since surviving five tough sets in the first round of the Davis Cup in Madrid in November and has been working hard on his recovery with his fitness team.
“I don’t want to rush anything or put a timeline on my recovery,” he said. “I’m going to listen to my body and step back on the court to compete when the time is right.”
This latest setback is one of many since the afternoon at Wimbledon more than two and a half years ago when he limped out of the tournament after five sets against the American Sam Querrey.
The two-times Wimbledon and US Open champion then quit the Tour to have a hip operation in Melbourne that did not go well. When he resumed last year after a second surgery, which he detailed recently in a film documentary called Resurfacing, Murray was cautious but upbeat. He won the doubles at Queen’s with Feliciano Lopez, played mixed doubles with Serena Williams at Wimbledon and won a minor tournament in Antwerp where his movement looked much improved.
His troubles returned in Madrid and he lasted only one match before deciding to pull out of the tournament.
Murray’s experiences in coming back too quickly have coloured his latest strategy. He is determined to be fit for the bigger tournaments this year, especially the Tokyo Olympic Games in July, where he hopes to add to his two gold medals.
It would not be surprising if that is the extent of his ambitions, because the prospect of making a meaningful impact in grand slams, over a fortnight in seven best-of-five matches, looks remote at the moment.
The post Andy Murray suffers new injury setback as doubts grow over full-time return appeared first on The Guardian.