London - Andy Murray indicated on Tuesday he would be
prepared to miss next year's Australian Open if it meant endangering his return
to full fitness from a hip injury.
The British tennis star has not played a competitive match
since struggling through to the quarter-finals of this year's Wimbledon, where
he was beaten by Sam Querrey of the United States.
Murray, however, is contemplating a return at the Brisbane
International, which starts on December 31 and is a warm-up event for the Australian
Open - the first of the sport's four annual major championships.
But speaking ahead of an exhibition match with Roger Federer
in Glasgow, the 30-year-old Scot was cautious about his prospects of regaining
100 percent fitness.
"You never know when you're coming back from any
injury, but that's what I'm working towards, for sure," said Murray.
"We have to see, but I believe that will be the case.
"When I get back on the court next year and start
playing again, it might not come immediately at the beginning of the
year," the two-time Wimbledon champion added.
"I have been hitting the ball very well in practice -
it's just that there is a difference between that 75-80 percent practice and
going flat out at 100 percent for two-and-a-half or three hours on the match
"Until I do that I can't say for certain, but I think
I'll be able to come back just fine."
Murray expects to travel to Australia after opting for a
course of rest and rehabilitation rather than surgery.
"Things have been going pretty well so far in the
rehab, but you just never know," he said. "I've been training for a
few weeks now. Some days I've felt great and some days not so good.
"But I will come back when I'm ready and when I'm 100
percent fit. I probably made a bit of a mistake trying to get ready for the US
Open but it was the last major of the year and I wanted to give it a go.
"And now it's time to give my body the rest and
recovery it needs. I'll come back when I'm ready."
Federer himself enjoyed a superb 2017, winning both the
Australian Open - his first Grand Slam title in five years - and Wimbledon
following a long lay-off caused by a knee injury.
"Take your time, however long it takes," Federer
told Murray in Glasgow. "When you come back you want to be at 100 percent,
otherwise the problem is you feel you just can't beat the best at the big
tournaments, so it's wise and worthwhile to take the extra week, extra month
"I'm sure Andy is going to have a lot of years left, so
he shouldn't hurry, but as a professional athlete you always want to come back
as quick as possible.
"You need to have goals but sometimes they need to be
postponed," the Swiss star added.