Henman’s high hopes for Murray comeback

Andy Murray’s 2020 comeback hopes were handed the British ‘papal blessing’ as former ace Tim Henman gave a big tick to his compatriot’s chances of returning to the ATP elite.

Henman, whose four Wimbledon semi-final appearances set the bar for the home side until Murray came along and won the event twice, retired in 2007 but has kept active in the sports as a BBC commentator and high-value sponsor asset.

Murray is pointing toward 2020 as his one-year anniversary from a second hip surgery arrives in January.,

The three-time Grand Slam winner and 2012 London Olympic gold medallist  steadily increased his Tour workload in the autumn and walked off with the Antwerp trophy last month in a pleasant surprise.

Now the Scot father of three is ready to resume full throttle at the ATP Cup on barely a month.

That sounds like a plan to Henman, 45.

“His story has transcended tennis and sport,” Henman told AAP.

“There are so many people around the world that have had new hips and had amazing success individually because they’ve obviously been in a lot of pain and discomfort and they feel so much better.”

The Oxford-born player added: “I don’t think there’s anyone in the world that’s been at the age of 32 who’s had a new hip and has wanted to play professional sport –  and that’s where I think it’s given so many people a massive amount of hope.”

Henman will be able to monitor any improvement in Murray’s form from close-up when he serves as captain of the British team at the ATP Cup.

The appointment was made by Murray under rules for the new event designed to counter-balance the reduced-format version of the Davis Cup won last week by Rafael Nadal and Spain over Canada.

Henman has been keeping a close eye on Murray’s comeback progress after a tear-stained loss in the Australian Open first round a year ago which looked to be marking the end of the road for the 32-year-old.

But a radical hip resurfacing procedure a few weeks later put Murray on the long road to recovery.

“I practised with him at Wimbledon in about May and he wasn’t moving – he was just standing in one corner – but you just knew that the tennis element wasn’t a problem,” Henman said.

“He was hitting the ball as well as he’s probably ever hit it, but it was just a question of whether his movement would come back and it’s come back more and more and I still think there’s significant improvement that can happen.

“And that’s what’s exciting for him and fascinating for the outside world to watch.

“The level he’s already played at this year makes it very exciting for next year.”

Henman will go so far as to predict that Murray, currently ranked 126th but with the benefit of a protected ATP ranking for some events, could actually return to the Top 20.

“Next year I see no reason why he can’t get back inside the top 20,” Henmansaid of Murray, a five-time Australian Open finalist.

“It’s just the element of the unknown. We’ll just have to wait. He’s not ready to retire yet. He’s got unfinished business.”

Written by Bill Scott for Grandslamtennis.online. To read more visit grandslamtennis.online

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