Cape Town - A hip resurfacing surgery saved Andy Murray's tennis career when he was on the cusp of retiring.
After the highs of 2016 saw him win a second Wimbledon title, a second Olympic gold medal and finish the year as the No 1 player in the world, it went downhill the following year.
He missed the second half of the 2017 season due to his long-standing hip injury and then underwent an unsuccessful hip operation at the start of 2018.
That year was also a write off though and he finally had the “Birmingham hip” surgery at the end of January this year after receiving good feedback from American doubles great Bob Bryan, who had the operation last year.
And after making a tentative start to singles in August this year, it finally clicked for Murray during the Asian swing and he carried that momentum over to the European Open last week as he won his first title since March 2017.
“The only thing I wish is that I had had this operation sooner,” he told The Sunday Telegraph. “But I didn’t know because no one [in tennis] had gone before. A lot of the people I had spoken to had suggested it was not really an option to play sports afterwards. But then when I spoke to the athletes who had had the operation and gone back to playing sports, they were like, ‘Yeah it felt great. It was brilliant.’
“Then I started speaking to Bob Bryan . That’s when I decided to go for it. But it was also not something that was presented to me until he had done well with it.
“I couldn’t really have changed that, I guess. But it would have saved a bit of pain and a bit of time.”
The 32-year-old has been known to push his body very hard during training and he concedes that maybe after his record-breaking exploits of 2016, he should have given himself a breather.
However, he believes he was always going to be struck down.
“Maybe that year I should have backed off and given myself more rest,” he said. “It was when I got shingles [a viral condition that affected him in Jan and February 2017] that I realised, ‘Yeah, I’ve overdone it.’ But I don’t think that the off season was what made my hip like what it was. It was always going to happen. Maybe it would have happened a month or two later.
“It was the French Open semi-final against Stan [Wawrinka in 2017] that I never recovered from. But, thinking back, after some of the longer matches in 2016, I was struggling with my serve in the fifth set because I wasn’t able to push up properly. Like against [Juan Martin] del Potro in the Davis Cup and [Kei] Nishikori at the US Open. It never stopped me from a training session or a match, it was just a discomfort that I had always dealt with, and then it just got to a point where there was no cartilage really left to protect my hip and the pain was just too much and just constant.”
He added: “Now that I use one of those Catapult things [a GPS tracking device] that the football players wear, I can see that I was doing too much, because some of the sessions were harder than a five-set match. And that’s something that I pass on to lots of the guys that I talk to now.”