WASHINGTON • Andy Murray said at the Citi Open on Monday night that his return to playing singles in the wake of a career-threatening hip injury may come sooner than he originally thought.
"I'm closer than maybe what I thought I was," the Scot said in a news conference ahead of his doubles match in Washington today.
Murray and his brother, Jamie, will take on Wimbledon runners-up Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in what will be the former world No. 1's fourth doubles event since a hip resurfacing operation in January.
As for his singles play, the three-time Grand Slam winner, who in January said he planned to retire in the near future, sounded more optimistic than he has in months.
When asked whether he could return to the singles court as soon as Aug 10, in time for the Cincinnati Masters, Murray admitted it would be the best-case scenario.
He said: "It's possible, yeah. And then if I wasn't able to play in Cincinnati, there's a good chance I would probably wait until after (the US Open in) New York, because I wouldn't want my first tournament, either, to be playing best-of-five (sets)."
While the 32-year-old has not played a competitive singles match since the Australian Open in January, he has started to undertake "point-based kind of practices" since Wimbledon.
At Rock Creek Park Tennis Centre on Monday, he played "seven or eight games" and was pleased with the results. He appreciated playing in the hot and humid conditions in Washington where temperatures passed 32 deg C, because his cardiovascular fitness is not up to par after spending months in the gym focusing on strengthening and improving flexibility in his hip.
"In terms of how I'm moving and feeling... from these practices I'm really happy with where I'm at," he said. "I'm quite close, but there's stuff that will need to get better.
"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.
"Basically, for the most part, I'm going to practise singles and play doubles, to compete. And then each week, I'm just going to see.
"If I keep progressing and I feel good in three weeks' time, I'll play singles as soon as I'm ready."
It was this time last year that another player, doubles great Bob Bryan, underwent his own hip resurfacing operation.
Murray revealed that the 41-year-old American, who resumed playing five months after surgery, was an invaluable source of information.
He also reached out to retired National Hockey League player Ed Jovanovski, who also had his hip resurfaced, in January.
"It was here. (Bryan) had the operation during Washington last year, and from there, he was like my guinea pig," he said. "I communicated with him loads over that period, and he's done extremely well to the level that he's playing at.
"I'm glad he did it, because if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have given it a go even."
ATP WASHINGTON OPEN
Day 3: StarHub Ch201, tomorrow, 2am