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Tennis News • The Queen’s Club In London • The Murray Brothers & Andy & His New Hip & Edmund Draws Tsitsipas


By Alix Ramsay


Here we all are again, then. Another British summer, another Fever-Tree Championships and another Andy Murray comeback.


This time, though, it is all so very different. For a start, the weather is shocking (cold, windy and wet unlike last year’s scorcher) and this time, the Muzz is looking rather chipper. Twelve months ago, he was making the first tentative and as it turned out, still painful steps on the path back from hip surgery. He looked unsure of his footing, wary of his hip and while he was still striking the ball well enough, everyone could see that his movement was still impeded by that sometimes nagging, sometimes excruciating pain in his right hip.


This year, the Muzz is another six months on from another hip op but this time, he is smiling. He is pain-free. He can run around. He can tie his own shoelaces. He is making real progress. In fact, Muzz and his new, tin hip are happy to play doubles through the grass court season. And that did not seem possible back in January when he waved goodbye to the crowd after his first round loss at the Australian Open for what he thought could have been the last time.


He is still unsure quite how far his newly resurfaced hip will take him but for all that he talks of just wanting to enjoy himself on court, he is still hoping to get back on the singles court at some point this year.


“When that is, I’m not really interested in putting a time limit on it,” he told a group of British reporters earlier this week. “I don’t need to play singles after Wimbledon or the US Open to enjoy what I’m doing now. If I can, that would be brilliant but I don’t think that’s going to be the case. I think it’s going to take a bit longer.


“I still have quite a lot of work to do before I’m at a level where I feel like I’ll be able to be competitive. At this moment, I’ve been progressing all of the time; at some stage it’s probably going to plateau for a while before I’m able to kick on.”


Even if he is still too slow for singles, he thinks he is ready for doubles, though. He and Feliciano Lopez – and old pal – will join forces at Queen’s Club, they may play at Eastbourne (although that would mean Lopez missing Wimbledon qualifying and then hoping he gets a wildcard into the main singles draw in SW19) and as for Wimbledon – Muzz is still looking for a partner there.


He had talked to his brother about teaming up for the grass court run but they decided against it.


“I told him that it was not certain that I would be ready to play,” Muzz said, “and I also don’t particularly want to let him down two minutes before the tournament.”


As Jamie pointed out a few weeks back at the Wimbledon test event for the new No.1 Court roof, he is in his prime years as a doubles player. He enters events with his eyes on the trophy. Partnering a bloke who has barely played in two years and who is still easing his way onto the comeback path is probably not going to help our Jamie win another major title. That said, there is always the Davis Cup finals at the end of the year and the Olympics next year – we may not have seen the end of the Murray Boys as a winning team.

We may see them on court together before that, too. The Fever-Tree draw put the Murrays in the same half of the draw although it did Andy few favours. He and Lopez will play the top seeds, Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in the first round. Should he survive that, there will be either Dan Evans and Ken Skupski or Felix Auger Aliassime and Alex De Minaur waiting for him in the quarter-finals and then, possibly, his brother and Neal Skupski in the semi-finals. If he was looking for a test for his new hip, the coming week at Queen’s Club should provide it.


As ever, the 32-man singles draw is stuffed tight with Brits although, by the end of the first round, there may be far fewer of them. Kyle Edmund starts his campaign against the top seed, Stefanos Tsitsipas; Dan Evans (who won the Surbiton Trophy last week and has been ploughing through the draw in Nottingham this week) faces Stan Wawrinka and Cam Norrie has drawn the No.2 seed, Kevin Anderson. Fingers crossed, then.


The draw has also thrown up a couple of intriguing opening tussles with Juan Martin del Potro taking on Denis Shapovalov and the great hope of the past, Grigor Dimitrov, facing the great hope of the future, Felix Auger Aliassime.


Ah, yes. We’re back: another damp summer, another Queen’s Club. But thanks to the smile of Muzz’s face, it doesn’t seem like old times at all. And that is the best news we have had in two years.

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