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I can rejoin elite, but I'm playing out of love: Andy

Andy Murray
Andy Murray

By Robert Jones

Andy Murray is confident he can get back towards the top of the game, but accepts 2020 will be a success if he just stays fit.

Murray is still in the early stages of his comeback from career-saving hip surgery last January, but he rolled back the years last month by winning the European Open in Antwerp - his first title since 2017.

That followed a promising few weeks in Asia and, after reporting no ill-effects from having a metal plate put in his joint, gave hope that he could again compete at an elite level.

The competitive instinct in Murray, which helped him become a three-time Grand Slam champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist before his injury, still drives him on, but just being out on court is how he is now judging success.

"I think that I can (get back)," he said. "I think my body showed I'm going to be able to do that, to play at a high level.

"I would want to be healthy, that's what I'd want, and I think over the last six months or so - definitely six to nine - you realise what really is important.

"I can remember why I started playing tennis in the first place and what the reasons for that were. I played tennis as a kid and through my professional career and I did it because I really loved playing.

"Being healthy allows me to do that. And it's nice to be able to win big competitions and have a high ranking and stuff.

"That's great, but actually the reason why I'm playing is because I love it and I need to remember that, if I'm 30 in the world or 70 in the world.

"If I'm still enjoying it and still enjoying the preparations and training and all of that stuff, and I feel competitive, then that would be success for me, but I need to remember that.

"It's sometimes difficult when you start playing, competing and losing matches. You really want to do better. But that would be success, if I could stay healthy and on the court."

Murray, who has launched his AMC clothing range with sportswear brand Castore, believes the key to that will be a flexible approach to his scheduling, where he could play or withdraw from tournaments at short notice.

"That's where I need to be smart with my scheduling and the amount of tournaments that I play and, at the beginning of the year, being reactive," he added.

"If I plan at the beginning of the year to be playing three tournaments, let's say in the first couple of months of the year, but I only win one match in each of those tournaments, then I could add a tournament.

"But if I end up doing really well maybe I play a tournament less which, in the past, I wouldn't have done. I'm not going to be looking at my schedule and my tournament year anymore. I'm going to do it very differently."

Murray, who has not played since that win in Antwerp after his wife gave birth to their third child, is next in action in the Davis Cup in Madrid next week.

• Roger Federer got his ATP Finals campaign back on track with a straight-sets win over Matteo Berrettini.

The six-time winner, beaten in his opening round-robin match by Dominic Thiem, needed a victory over eighth-ranked Italian Berrettini to keep alive his hopes of reaching the semi-finals.

Federer got the job done without too much fuss and will now face great rival Novak Djokovic tomorrow as he bids to reach the last-four.

The 38-year-old Swiss said: "It's unusual to lose and come back and play again but I did it last year, I had that experience, and I'm happy with how I played.

"Matteo was always going to be tough with his big serve. To get that break at the start of the second set was key, and I was pretty clean on my own serve.

"Hopefully I can keep that up and play a bit better."

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