Andy Murray targets Australian Open after bouncing back from 'rough year'

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Three-time grand slam winner Andy Murray said that he felt like he was "coming through the end of the bad bit and entering exciting times" and was looking forward to the 2020 season.

Posted: Nov 14, 2019 11:50 AM
Updated: Nov 14, 2019 11:50 AM

He's made an impressive recovery from career-saving hip surgery, but Andy Murray says he questioned whether he wanted to return to tennis.

The 31-year-old had a second hip operation in January and declared himself pain free in March, but the thought crossed his mind that a comeback was not compulsory.

However, it was his love for the sport which drove him on. Murray returned in doubles in June and claimed his first ATP singles title since March 2017 in Antwerp last month and is now ready to have another crack at grand slams.

"There comes a point when you're not in pain anymore and it's like, 'Wow, this is brilliant,'" the former world No. 1 told CNN's Alex Thomas. "Do I need to go back to playing tennis? Do I want to do that? What are the most important things?"

READ: Nadal saves match point to beat Medvedev

READ: Murray 'never expected' to win titles so soon after hip surgery

He'll play at the Australian Open in January, the same place where he broke down in tears two years before as he finally succumbed to an ailing hip.

"I've not played a best of five-set match since the operation," said Murray, who won the last of his three grand slam titles at Wimbledon in 2016. "I don't anticipate having any issues with my hip because I've played some long matches so far and the hip's been fine.

"It's the other bits of my body that hurt nowadays. I will have to see how I hold up physically playing the best of five set matches. So far the signs are pretty good.

"I'm sure I can win matches. Whether I can win (a tournament) or not I don't know."

Away from the court there's also been plenty of change for Murray. His wife recently gave birth to their third child, Teddy, meaning he's currently juggling his tennis with looking after three children all under the age of four.

But the Scot admits that he's enjoyed spending more time with the family while being away from the sport, joking that his wife Kim is "quite keen to get me out the house."

Above all, the lengthy injury spell has shifted his perspective.

"These last couple of years I've realized that the reason I started playing tennis in the beginning was not to win grand slams and it wasn't to get to the top 10 in the world or even the top 100 in the world," says Murray.

"The reason I played tennis throughout my whole childhood and growing up is because I just love doing it and I love playing tennis and that's why I'm playing just now.

"During my career, I would have put too much pressure on myself to do well and then maybe not enjoyed it as much as I should have done at times. And I want to make the most of it over the last couple of years whilst I'm still able to."

READ: Andy Murray to make grand slam return at Australian Open

Murray's familiar foes of Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, and Novak Djokovic are still as strong as ever, and the trio are favorites to win in Melbourne next year.

A new crop of exciting young players, however, have emerged during Murray's absence, and he is wary of the threat posed by the likes of defending ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev, US Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev, and Australian Open semifinalist Stefanos Tsitsipas.

"I don't know a lot of the players and I didn't watch a lot of the tennis when I was out injured," said Murray.

"Many of the guys I'm competing against now I've never played against and I've not practiced against because a lot's changed in the two years since I got hurt. Obviously, you've got the top guys, Roger, Rafa and Novak have stayed there, but a lot more of the younger guys have come through.

READ: Djokovic succumbs to impressive Dominic Thiem at ATP Finals

"They all play really well. A lot of them have got very different game styles. If you look at the way Tsitsipas plays compared to Medvedev, compared to Zverev, they're all very different. It will be fun to get the chance to play against them and see what it's like."

And "fun" is what it's all about for Murray at the moment having endured what he calls a "rough year" in 2018.

"This (year) has been eventful," he adds.

"It's been up and down and exciting and it looks like it's going to finish off really well too. I feel like I'm coming through the end of the bad bit and getting into some exciting times looking forward to next year."

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Murray, now ranked 125th in the world and still short of tournament practice, is a heavy outsider to challenge for the Australian Open title in Melbourne. But you imagine just being there will make him happy enough.

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