Andy Murray is hoping to be fit to play at the Miami Masters in March but is also facing the possibility of needing a further operation to remedy side effects of his hip resurfacing surgery.
Former world no. 1 Murray faces yet more uncertainty as he tests out his fitness in training sessions, with a return to competition at the Miami Masters the best-case scenario.
Murray might have to have a further surgery to correct abnormal bone growth in his hip, which the three-time Grand Slam champion described as ‘a pain in the arse’.
Murray underwent hip resurfacing surgery in January 2019 after fearing he would have to retire from the sport, but returned to singles in August and brought the season to a triumphant close when he won the European Open title in Antwerp in October.
However, he incurred a bruise on his pelvic bone at the Davis Cup Finals in November and only played one match there before sitting out the rest of the week. He has not competed since, missing the Australian Open.
Murray described the past few months as ‘unbelievably complex, challenging and difficult’. He only resumed practice and running in the past few days.
‘I have not had lots of clarity as to what the issue actually is, because it is difficult to tell. What I need to do just now is build up in these next couple of weeks to really test it. I will really test the hip out. Hopefully it responds fine.
‘I should know by the end of next month whether I’m good to play or not with it. But I think I am now at a point where we’re pretty sure as to what is going on.’
The ongoing pain in his groin area, despite the healing of the bone bruise, is currently believed to be caused by heterotopic ossification, a common side effect of his hip resurfacing surgery; bone growing in soft tissue around the hip.
It is possible that the condition has stabilized during his rest period and that he will be able to resume playing and competing without pain, but if not, an operation to remove the growth will be necessary.
However, that operation might have to wait until the bone has stopped growing, which would further delay the 32-year-old’s return to competition.
‘The issue is if you try to remove that too early, while it is still active in the process of growing, it just grows straight back.
‘If I have to have that removed because it is what is causing the problem, then that is a pain … It’s not that long an operation really in terms of the rehab and stuff. But it’s just if I wasn’t able to have it until May or whatever, with six to eight weeks’ rehab, then that would mean missing that period.’
If Murray did need to delay the operation until May, it would rule him out of Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics.
Murray has already missed eight of the last ten Grand Slams.
The two-time Wimbledon winner said:
‘I want to play in the slams again. That is the thing that I have missed over these last few years. Missing the Australian Open for me this year was rough. At the end of last season I was actually starting to play pretty well, I was feeling good and then this happened.
‘I guess at the Davis Cup I was not anticipating that it might be an issue, I was not thinking that I was going to be missing Australia, so that was tough. I want to get back to playing in the slams. That’s what excites me and interests me. There is no reason why I can’t.’
Murray’s current plan is to test out the hip in practice. If all goes well, he might be able to return to competition at the Miami Masters, at which men’s matches begin on Wednesday 25 March. The world no. 135 would need a wildcard for Miami, which he has won twice but not played since 2016.