EXCLUSIVE – Tim Henman gives his verdict on Roger Federer and Andy Murray’s latest comeback attempts
Tim Henman believes Roger Federer and Andy Murray can defy the odds and return to winning ways in 2021, even though he admits the Grand Slam winning duo have much to prove as they head into the New Year.
Murray showed flashes of inspiration as he attempts to make a success of his latest injury comeback, while 39-year-old Federer has returned to the practice court after he underwent knee surgery earlier this year.
Both former world No 1’s have much to prove as they aim to make a big impression at the Australian Open in January, with Henman telling Tennis365 that Federer could be ready to defy his critics as he did when he returned from surgery to win the 2017 Australian Open.
“We just have to hope Roger’s rehabilitation goes well and he can get himself back up to a good level if he does play at the Australian Open,” Henman told us.
“He wants to compete at the highest level and it is not going to get any easier for him. To compete at the highest level will be tough, but his eagerness to come back at the age of 39 is incredible.
“Roger has achieved so much and has nothing to prove, but he wants to come back and play again and it will be great for the sport if he can reach the level he expects of himself.”
Henman has long been a close friend of Federer’s and he is also in regular contract with Murray and his team, with positive vibes coming out of the Scot’s camp as he prepares looks forward to Australia.
“I was speaking with Andy’s coach Jamie Delgado the other day and he was telling me that Andy’s motivation is as high as ever,” stated Henman. “He is desperate to come back and play at his best level in 2021 and the next few weeks will now be vital. Fingers crossed he can have a good training block now and be ready to go in Australia.
“For me it’s not a tennis issue, it never has been. It is all about how Andy’s body can cope to the demands of playing three or four matches in quick succession.
“When his hip has felt good, he has been able to play at a high level. He won a tournament in Antwerp last year, which was incredible, and his movement have improved considerably since then.
“He beat (Alexander) Zverev in build-up to the US Open and has been competitive in most of the matches he has played, so he will want to come back and prove he can play at the top level again and then recover in a short period of time.
“It’s all stepping stones for him now. How can he recover from a long best-of-three match and then how will his body react to a best-of-five match in the Grand Slams. He is still finding that out himself, but there is no doubt in my mind that he can still compete with the best when his body allows him to.
“You would like to think that Murray still has a lot of tennis ahead of him and knowing him, I’m sure that is what he will be thinking.”
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