Andy Murray revealed he doesn’t know how long his professional tennis career will last.
He got choked up on court recounting his physical battles of the past 18 months.
He admitted he is learning to manage the constant discomfort associated with this hip injury – and that the pain is always there.
In his first hit-out of the 2019 season, Murray beat Australian James Duckworth in straight sets to reach the second round of the Brisbane International.
It marked his first win on Australian soil since Australian Open 2017.
“I think one of the positive things for me was like kind of like instinctively, like I came up with some shots where I was kind of reading the game quite well, which is positive for a first match sometimes,” said Murray, who was playing for the first time since Shenzhen in September and who next faces Daniil Medvedev.
“Especially when I started playing again in the middle of last year, kind of wasn’t seeing where the ball was going to go or anticipating what was going to happen that well.
“I will try to recover well tonight and then see how I come back tomorrow (Wednesday night). But it was a good start.”
Following hip surgery and a year out of the game, Murray is a shadow of the player who was once ranked No.1, who won three Grand Slam singles titles and who was a constant pillar among the Big Four.
Currently ranked No.240, the 31-year-old is playing in Brisbane on a protected ranking, having won just eight singles matches in the past year-and-a-half.
Unfortunately for his many fans, he admitted he is not 100 per cent physically healthy. And he may never be.
But encouragingly, he is doing a better job of learning to play through discomfort.
“I know what’s normal for me now in terms of my hip discomfort and stuff. I’m able to handle that a bit better and concentrate more on actually just trying to play tennis,” he said.
“All athletes play through pain and niggles during their career. And I’ve obviously become accustomed to that over my career. The hip issue has been different than that. It’s not just been discomfort or niggles. It’s been a serious injury which has caused a lot of pain and more discomfort than just a niggle.
“It’s taken time to kind of adjust to that and understand that and kind of get my head around that.
“When I was playing again in kind of June, July time last year, my hip was pretty sore … psychologically it was difficult. I was concentrating more on that than actually playing the match or my tactics.
“Today I didn’t really think about it at all, just concentrating on the match. I’ve trained on it more and been here playing practice sets with guys, and I’ve just had a lot longer to get used to it.”
"I love competing… when you're away from the sport, you appreciate those kinds of things more." pic.twitter.com/3bzpH5VzID
— #BrisbaneTennis (@BrisbaneTennis) January 2, 2019
The winner of two Wimbledon trophies, two Olympic gold medals and 45 career titles, Murray could easily have walked away from the game, extremely satisfied with Hall of Fame-worthy career.
Yet he revealed on the eve of the Brisbane International that he wanted to depart the sport on his “own terms” without a lingering sense of regret.
How successful this segment of his career is, or how long it lasts, remains to be seen.
“I’ve seen many doctors and specialists and have lots and lots of different opinions on my hip. And I don’t believe they know. I don’t know either,” he said.
“I’ll just try to kind of take each kind of few-month blocks like at a time and see where it takes me.
“I need to be smart with my training and my scheduling. If I can keep my hip like as it is today, I can play like that and enjoy the matches and what have you.
“Training, practicing is not enjoyable at all when you’re in lots of pain. So I need to try and find a way of managing it and reducing my schedule a little bit and reducing the amount of practice and hopefully I’ll be able to kind of maintain the level that it’s at for a while.”
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