Murray's Motivation: 'To Play On My Terms'
Andy Murray's resolve to work his way back from hip surgery is ingrained in his desire to ensure that the latter stages of his career are played on his terms. As he prepares to play just his seventh tournament in the past 18 months at next week’s Brisbane International, the Scot says he is determined to not let injury define his remaining seasons.
“I owe it to myself to give myself a chance to get back to the level that I’m happy competing at… I want to go out on my own terms. If I stopped six months ago or not given the hip time to recover, I may look back and regret that decision,” he said Friday.
Murray, 31, was speaking to media in Brisbane after earlier in the day practising with Grigor Dimitrov. This time last year Murray arrived at the season opener hopeful of returning to the tour after a six-month injury layoff. But he withdrew from the event and underwent right hip surgery in early January. By the time he returned to the tour in June at Queen’s, he’d been away from tournament play for 11 months.
Murray had a modest 7-5 win-loss record in 2018, with the best showing of his six tournament appearances being a quarter-final run in Washington, D.C. He missed the final five weeks of the 2018 season with an ankle injury and in October and November Murray spent around six weeks working in Philadelphia with sports rehab specialist Bill Knowles.
“As I’ve gotten older, and with the last 12 months, I can’t believe how quickly things can change,” Murray said. “When I first had issues with the hip I was No. 1 in the world and 12 months later I was struggling. I thought I had time on my side. There’s nothing I’d rather do more than stay out on tour. I love the practice, the competition, the locker room. I want to play as long as I can. There are still things I want to achieve. Whether I am capable of doing that or not, we’ll see.”
At No. 256 in the ATP Rankings, Murray is using his protected ranking of No. 2 to enter Brisbane. But that ranking can’t be used for seedings, meaning Murray could draw any of the top eight seeds – including Rafael Nadal - in the early rounds. But the 31-year-old is focused on finding a way to regain form, win some matches if possible, and start enjoying tennis again.
“I have to be smart with how I train and manage [the hip] as best I can. Last year I was in more pain than I am now. It was a hard year in which I went through a lot, but I had to accept that pain was something I had to deal with. This time I’m trying to enjoy myself. I missed playing here and I’m going to go out and compete as hard as I can.”