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Laid-back Murray is determined to enjoy competitive return

 

Doubling up: Andy Murray at Queen’s yesterday
Doubling up: Andy Murray at Queen’s yesterday
Johanna Konta

By Andy Sims

Andy Murray revealed his hip operation has been "life-changing" as he prepares to make his return to competitive tennis.

Former world number one Murray has entered the doubles at Queen's Club with Feliciano Lopez in what will be his first taste of action since undergoing surgery in January.

Next week's Fever-Tree Championships represent the first tentative steps towards resurrecting a career which Murray feared was over due to a chronic hip condition.

Such was the pain Murray was in he considered quitting the sport on more than one occasion.

So the 32-year-old Scot is relaxed about his prospects of returning to anywhere near the heights which saw him win three grand slam singles titles.

"There were a number of times over the last 18 months where I did want to stop, I didn't want to play any more, I was getting no enjoyment out of tennis at all," he said.

"Now, I like playing tennis. I'm a fan of the sport, I played it as a kid and I want to keep playing if I can.

"I didn't know how I was going to feel if I went and had the operation but it's been brilliant, completely life-changing for me from where I was.

"Yes it would be nice to be winning Wimbledon and things like that, but hardly anyone gets the opportunity to do that, and there are loads of players who still love and enjoy the sport without winning the biggest competitions.

"I would hope that I would be able to deal with that and enjoy it."

Murray and Lopez will face Colombian top seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah when the tournament gets under way.

Meanwhile, Johanna Konta is hoping to carry her superb clay-court form onto the grass as she begins her build-up to Wimbledon.

The British number one will play her first tournament since reaching her third grand slam semi-final in Paris at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham this week.

The wet weather has limited her already-reduced grass-court practice to a couple of sessions since she returned to the court on Wednesday, meaning a first-round clash with Estonia's Anett Kontaveit will require a fast adaptation.

What Konta does have in abundance is confidence and match toughness thanks to her 15 victories on clay, more than double the tally for the rest of her career combined.

"I've been playing at a good level consistently for a period of time," she said. "It was a nice situation to have to play quite a lot of matches back to back.

"You can only take good things from match fitness and confidence in decision making and in knowing you can come through different situations.

"I feel pretty similar going into this grass court season except maybe that I just haven't spent as much time on the surface, but that's a very good problem to have.

"I always look forward to the grass because I get to be at home. I drove up this morning, which is nice. Not many players get to experience that in a season, just pop to your tournament."

Konta's exceptional run in Paris prompted her to pull out of the grass court event in Nottingham, where she had reached the final for the past two years.

Birmingham has been the exception on a surface where Konta has generally been very successful - capped, of course, by her run to the semi-finals of Wimbledon two years ago.

The 28-year-old has never made it past the second round in six previous appearances at the Edgbaston Priory Club.

Konta, seeded seventh, said: "I've played Nottingham every year so it's a different situation, it's a different dynamic. This will be my first grass court tournament and I'm just looking forward to getting started really.

"Last year I lost to Petra (Kvitova), the year before Coco (Vandeweghe), so I've played some very capable players, especially on this surface. I wouldn't say it's anything specifically to do with Birmingham or the tournament. It's always a lot to do with the opponents that you play.

"There's no reason why this year I can't do better. It might not happen but I'll be working towards hopefully making it happen."

Konta is one of three British players in what is a strong draw. Heather Watson and Harriet Dart are wild cards, and Dart will also be playing doubles with Venus Williams.

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