Andy Murray is “quite close” to returning to play singles, with a best-case scenario of Cincinnati in two weeks now a distinct possibility.
The three-time Grand Slam winner, who was staring at retirement back in January after hip surgery, returned to the court in June but has only played doubles so far as he battles to find fitness and form.
“In terms of moving and feeling and waking up the next day, I’m feeling good,” Murray said yesterday.
“I’m quite close but there’s stuff that would need to get better.”
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Murray has paired with brother Jamie in the men’s doubles at the ATP Washington Open. He said yesterday that he now feels no hip pain and will practice singles this week.
“I’ll play singles as soon as I feel ready,” Murray said.
“I’m going to practice singles and play doubles to compete and each week I’ll see. I’ll keep on that path until I’m ready.”
Murray is now ranked 222 in the world but is still regarded a major drawcard, especially among British fans.
As for the US Open, which begins on August 26, Murray was still ‘hopeful’.
“I’m playing better than I was last year. I can extend my leg behind me. I can push off for serves. It’s brilliant,” he said.
“The question I have now is why not? Why can’t I get back where I was? What’s the reason? There isn’t one. It just takes time.”
Murray had said it would be up to 18 months before he could return to to singles and the US Open was “pretty unlikely”.
But the mood has changed. “After Wimbledon I started doing a few singles drills. It felt great.”
“This latest comeback I didn’t have any particularly high hopes. I’ve had high hopes for most of them before.”
Murray played a set on Sunday and about eight games yesterday in Washington, but admitted match fitness could be an issue.
“My conditioning isn’t great,” he said. “My time in the gym has been on strengthening the hip.”
Murray’s last singles match was a five-set first-round loss at the Australian Open in January to Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut.
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal has been named top seed for the men’s Rogers Cup in Montreal, with Ash Barty the top seed for the women’s event.
Tennis Canada announced the names of the top seeds yesterday based on the latest ATP and WTA tour rankings.
Nadal, ranked No. 2 in the world by ATP, gets the top seed in Montreal after world No. 1 Novak Djokovic announced his withdrawal from the tournament last week.
No. 4 Dominic Thiem of Austria will be the tournament’s second seed, as Roger Federer has also withdrawn from the event.
Barty, who will be competing in her second tournament as the world No. 1, reached the Rogers Cup quarterfinals last year.
The top three in Toronto will be rounded out by Naomi Osaka of Japan and Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic.