Mark Petchey believes Andy Murray has already exceeded expectations in his latest comeback attempt, as he predicted he could get back into the world’s top 10 in 2020.
Speaking exclusively to Tennis365, the Amazon Sport analyst and Murray’s former coach has saluted the fortitude of the Scot after he bounced back from hip surgery in January to win an ATP Tour title in Antwerp in October.
While Petchey is keen to avoid adding to the hype around the ambitions for the two-time Wimbledon champion next year, he feels there is a chance for him to get back into the mix to challenge of the biggest prizes in the sport.
“From everyone’s perspective, including Andy’s, this has been a dream come true from what was initially a nightmare start to 2019,” Petchey told Tennis365.
“He went through so much to try and get his hip into a place where he could try and play and then decided he could do no more and needed to have the operation.
“It felt like it was all over for him when I interviewed him on court after his defeat at the Australian Open in January, but I felt then that he would not give up and would try and again and what we saw from him over the last two or three months was just amazing.
“The question mark was over whether he could move at the levels required to compete at the highest level. That was the unknown factor, but he has answered a lot of those questions now.
“We all know Andy is very special and we had hopes that he might be able to come back, but to get to the position he was in Antwerp and winning a tournament was beyond all expectations.
“To beat a player like Stan Wawrinka in the final and also to be close to players like Fabio Fognini and Dominic Thiem during a very encouraging few matches out in Asia suggested he is not far away.
“He has found a way to breathe new life into a remarkable sporting story and hopefully there are a few more chapters to be written.
“If Andy stays fit, there is no reason why he can’t be in the mix to qualify for the ATP Finals next year. Andy’s best level is significantly higher than most of the guys on the tour, so clearly if they body will allow him to compete week-in, week-out, he will get close to the finals next year.
“However, we are in danger of getting a little carried away. The last month has been phenomenal and it has been interesting to see how his movement has improved and has he has increased his power on his backhand side, the incremental differences he is making, it is encouraging for next year. There are still lots of challenges ahead, but he has shown a way to overcome those.”
Murray’s battle with his hip injury is chronicled in a compelling new Amazon Prime documentary that will air later this week, with Petchey suggesting there is one big hurdle left for his former pupil to overcome before his comeback is complete.
“The only question to answer now is how does the body stand up to a best of five-set match on a hard court against the very best, followed by another one two days later,” he added.
“Against the lesser players, he will probably win a lot of matches in three sets and we have seen he is fine to play three sets, even if they are long matches. To go against someone like Novak [Djokovic] in five sets is a question mark he needs to answer for himself, but let’s not worry about that for now. Instead, let’s celebrate a great career from a guy who has given everything to make the most of his talents and drain everything out of his body.
“Tennis wise, Andy will always hit a tennis ball and that will never change because of the fantastic talent he has. Even if he had 10 years off, I would expect him to come back on court and hit the ball out of the middle of the racket so it has been no surprise to see him hitting the ball so well. Now we wait to see what happens next, but there is every reason to be optimistic for 2020 when you see what he has achieved in his comeback so far.”
Andy Murray: Resurfacing allows viewers to live alongside the multiple Grand Slam winning tennis champion, as he strives to achieve his greatest comeback yet. It airs on Amazon Prime on Friday, November 29th.
Follow Kevin Palmer on Twitter @RealKevinPalmer
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