EXCLUSIVE: Mark Petchey gives his verdict on Andy Murray’s return to singles action

Andy Murray smiling at Queen's practice PA

Amazon Prime tennis analyst Mark Petchey sat down with Tennis365 for an extended interview and in this first section, he looks at the return to singles action of former world No.1 Andy Murray.

Mark Petchey believes Andy Murray should be ‘hugely encouraged’ by his return to singles action, as he suggested the Scot may need the rest of 2019 to assess where he can take his comeback from hip surgery.

Murray lost 6-4, 6-4 to Richard Gasquet in the opening round of the Cincinnati Masters event on Monday, in his first singles match since he underwent a hip resurfacing procedure in January.

While former world No.1 Murray admitted he was disappointed with aspects of his performance and quickly confirmed after the match that he would not play singles at the US Open later this month, Petchey believes the player he coached in his formative days as a professional needs to be patient as he plots a return towards the top of the game.

“There was way more encouraging signs for Andy than there were negatives and the big question now is whether that hip will allow Andy to play his natural game or whether he will have to be more aggressive and try to keep points as short as possible,” Petchey told Tennis365 in an exclusive interview.

“Those are the questions that will get asked of him as he goes down this journey of recovery, but he could be pleased with what he did against Gasquet. Yes, he was disappointed as he was at the end because he will always be a great competitor, we could still see some great signs for him. His best tennis may be months away, but it is coming.

“Let’s not forget how long it takes for top sportsmen to come back after a big injury and they don’t come much bigger for a tennis player than what Andy has had with his hip.

“It took Novak Djokovic six months to come back from his elbow problem and start playing at his best, John McEnroe took nine months away from the game and never really made it back to the top after that. It will take time for Murray to get there, but the first signs are good.”

Petchey has been one of Murray’s most vocal supporters throughout his career, so it was challenging for him to find himself as the one-court interviewer for what appeared to be the Scot’s final professional appearance at the Australian Open last January.

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With emotions running high as Murray conducted an on-court interview with his former coach in what was billed as his farewell performance to the sport, Petchey admits he was uncomfortable with the position he found himself in.

“The tournament wanted to give Andy some sort of send-off if that was to be his last match and to honour the efforts and endeavours he has put into that tournament in Australia, where he has been so close so often to success,” added Petchey.

“I was pretty emotional then because we all appreciated that there was a potential it was coming to an end for him and even the other day when someone spoke to me about Andy, I found myself breaking down. I’ve been there from the start with him. I first saw him when he was 16 and to witness what he has done have just been incredible.

“To have played a very small part in that means so much to me. I was chatting to him the other day and was reflecting on the summer we spent out in America when I was coaching him. He played ten weeks straight because he entered qualifying for the US Open and I told him it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. It was him and I on the road, just having an amazing time.

“When you look back on that now and think where his career has gone since, it is emotional and when it finally does come to an end for him in his career, I’m sure those emotions will come to the surface once again.”

The Cincinnati Masters continues on Amazon Prime all week, with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer set to fine tune their preparations. Sign up to watch the action live in the UK here – https://www.amazon.co.uk

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