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Andy Murray faces Benoit Paire in the first round.

Murray: ‘I Can Still Compete With The Best Players’

Murray will play singles for the first time since March in London

Andy Murray insists that he is still capable of competing with the world’s best players on his ATP Tour return at the cinch Championships in London, where he is a five-time champion.

Ahead of his first singles match since early March, the British star admitted, “I don’t feel perfect. I have been practising well over the past month or so and pretty consistently. I have been training at Wimbledon, came here in the past few days and had a couple of good practices.

“I know I can still compete with the best players in the world. I have been doing it consistently in practice over these past six months and certainly, on the grass, I don’t see why not.”

The 34-year-old, who has struggled to overcome a right hip complaint this year, has only played two ATP Tour events this year at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier and the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. His last singles match was against Andrey Rublev on 3 March, although he did compete as a doubles player with Feliciano Lopez at last month’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.

“The question mark is obviously whether the body holds up,” said Murray. “I can’t say with any great certainty right now if that is going to happen, as I have been feeling good at different points throughout the past nine months, practised really well and felt good going into tournaments, and then something has happened, like in Miami. I hope I will be, because I have seen enough in practice [to suggest] that my tennis is fine and in a good place. But physically, I need to hold up while playing matches.”

Murray has a 30-8 singles record at the grass-court tournament in west London, with title runs in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016. The Scot, who will play France’s Benoit Paire in The Queen’s Club first round, is just trying to stay healthy.

“My priority is that I am healthy, my focus is on that. I know I can still play high-level tennis if I can get through these matches,” Murray said. “Judging by what you see on social media, a lot of people don’t think I can compete at this level anymore. My goal is to be physically fit.

“I am in good shape in terms of all the numbers I am producing in the gym, but I am aware that stuff is irrelevant. You need to be able to get through tennis matches and I have been unable to do that, so I don’t want to promise anything as I don’t even know myself.”

The Brit, who underwent hip resurfacing surgery at the start of 2019, went on to add, “If my goal is to get to World No. 1 and win majors… I would have stopped three years ago. Winning the doubles [title] at Queen’s with Feliciano Lopez [in 2019] for me was really special and that created a memory and something [that] I will look back on. You can still do things on the court outside winning Slams, which you can enjoy.

“The reason why I’m still playing is because I love playing tennis. I spoke to a number of my ex-coaches who were players, and I asked them about when they finished playing and what it was like at the end of their careers. Unanimously, they [all said] it was extremely difficult to stop playing and our advice would be to play as long as you can.”

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