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Murray could make singles return in Cincinnati - 'I'm closer than I thought'

Hannah Wilks in News 30 Jul 2019
  • Andy Murray could return to singles competition as soon as the Cincinnati Masters
  • Murray on rehab: 'I think I'm quite close'
  • Murray will reunite with Queens Club teammate Feliciano Lopez for Rogers Cup
Andy Murray hopes to return to singles action at the Cincinnati Masters

Andy Murray could make his return to singles competition at the Cincinnati Masters.

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'I'm closer than I thought,' Andy Murray told journalists in Washington, D.C. where he is playing doubles, suggesting he could play singles again as soon as the Cincinnati Masters.

Murray had previously said it was 'unlikely' that he would be ready to play singles by the time the US Open begins on Monday 26 August, as he continues his journey back to full fitness after undergoing hip resurfacing surgery in January.

Murray plays doubles with Serena Williams at Wimbledon
The former world no. 1 played his first matches since the Australian Open at Queen's Club in June, where he won the doubles title with Feliciano Lopez. He went on to play doubles in Eastbourne and men's and mixed doubles at Wimbledon, but steadfastly refused to commit to a date for his singles return, saying it would all depend on how things progressed on the practice court and in the gym.

Clearly things have been going well, with Murray delivering optimistic news to the press gathered to speak to him at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., where he is playing doubles with brother Jamie.

'In terms of how I'm moving and feeling and pulling up the next day from these practices, I'm really happy with where I'm at. I think I'm quite close,' Murray said

'If I was to play a tournament in a few weeks' time, I could do it. But it's just to get to maybe where I want to get to, I'll need to play matches and get a little bit more work done in the gym on my cardio.'

Murray has circled the Cincinnati Masters, also known as the Western & Southern Open, as a potential target for his return to playing singles. The tournament, which Murray has won twice, begins on Sunday 11 August.

'What I'm doing here is, for the most part, I'm going to practise singles and play doubles to compete and then just each week I'm just going to see. If I keep progressing and I feel good in three weeks' time, then I'll play singles as soon as I'm ready. I'm not quite ready at this week, but I hope at some stage soon I will be,' Murray said.

A sweat-drenched, emotional Murray reacts to victory over Marius Copil at the Citi Open in 2018
The Cincinnati Masters begins in a little under two weeks. But Murray was keen not to let speculation about a potential return to singles run wild.

'Best-case scenario probably would be Cincinnati, and then if I wasn't able to play in Cincinnati, there's a good chance I would probably wait until after New York because I wouldn't want my first tournament to be playing best of five,' Murray said.

The way Murray competed in the doubles he has played in June and July demonstrated that his competitive fire and passion for tennis remains undimmed. But after driving himself through agonizing hip pain on his way to a second Wimbledon title and the world no. 1 ranking, then battling it on and off the court in 2017 and 2018 before being driven by the pain to the brink of retirement from the sport, he will not push himself too hard.

Returning to the Citi Open, where 12 months ago he sat sobbing in his chair courtside after beating Marius Copil in a three-set match which ended after 3am, will have driven that lesson home.

'I actually saw the end of that match a couple of weeks ago. I couldn't walk. I was watching myself walk, and I was like "Wow". It was really bad. I was struggling a lot. I don't know how I really got through the match in the end. I was upset because my hip was really, really painful,' Murray said.

In the meantime, Murray has confirmed that he will team up with Feliciano Lopez again for the Rogers Cup. Lopez played a huge role in helping Murray to the Queen's Club doubles title, even while playing some marathon matches on the way to the singles title. It's the most successful of the doubles partnerships Murray has tried so far: He lost in the first round of Eastbourne with Marcelo Melo, and he and Pierre-Hugues Herbert were defeated in the second round of Wimbledon.

Murray and his brother Jamie, currently ranked world no. 8 in doubles, will start their Washington doubles campaign against Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin on Wednesday.

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Murray could make singles return in Cincinnati - 'I'm closer than I thought'

Andy Murray teased the possibility of returning to singles competition at the Cincinnati Masters in two weeks' time as his rehab is progressing better than expected and confirmed plans to play doubles with Queens Club partner Feliciano Lopez at the Canada Masters in Montreal next week

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