Andy Murray has been warned to expect a tough ride when he returns to action with John McEnroe saying he should be realistic about his chances if he does feature at Wimbledon.
Three-time Grand Slam winner Murray on Tuesday admitted that his recovery from hip surgery has been “very slow”, but he added he was “getting closer to playing again”.
However, a few hours later he pushed his comeback date back as he pulled out of the Libema Open in the Netherlands. He remains hopeful though, of playing at the Fever-Tree Championships and Wimbledon.
McEnroe says Murray will be up against it once he makes his return on the grass.
“He’s gonna play because he loves to play,” he is quoted as saying in The Guardian. “But I’m sure he would be realistic about what he could do if he did play. It would be tough to go a long way if he hasn’t played.”
He added: “When you have a hip problem you have a tendency to be more cautious [on grass]. I had some hip issues. I felt like I lost some speed. It’s not a good feeling, particularly when guys are hitting it harder than ever – even when I was playing. It just seems like every time they can harry you, they are going for it. If you are not feeling quite right, it can be tough.”
Several of the world’s top players have struggled with injury over the past few years and McEnroe says Murray will only be able to assess things once he is back playing.
“There is no way to know. You play practice – and we all know how different practice is to a match, where you step on Centre Court at Wimbledon. It’s a year. That’s a long time,” he said.
“Everyone’s different. You go from the extreme of Roger [Federer] being able to pull it off to Stan [Wawrinka], who has barely played. Novak [Djokovic] doesn’t seem like himself yet and that’s been the better part of almost a couple of years now.”
McEnroe himself was forced to step away from the game in 1986 and 1987 due to injury and he admits he was never the same player.
“Well, I carried on for about seven years [after a six-month break in 1986, and another absence the following year]. That’s a long time,” he said. “You keep giving yourself reasons as to why it’s worth it, the upside. It’s worth taking semi-humiliation. You’re still out there doing something you love in a way, but you’re not as good as you were.
“I’m not even saying [Murray] won’t be [as good as he was]. I don’t know what will happen, but it will be pretty tough to come back and be better than he was – unless I’m missing something when you have hip surgery. Maybe they can cure it completely, but that’s a pretty tough injury to overcome. Let’s just say it’s difficult. I didn’t take the time off so that I would be worse when I came back. My plan was to be better. You sink to a certain level where you can’t take it any more.”
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