Tennis

Andy Murray to make Grand Slam comeback at Australian Open

Andy Murray will make his Grand Slam return at the Australian Open in January, a year after career-saving hip surgery, organisers said yesterday.

The British three-time Major winner has been slowly working his way back to fitness and is now ranked 289th, up from 503rd just a week ago.

Murray, 32, won his opening match at the Shanghai Masters on Monday, beating Argentinian qualifier Juan Ignacio Londero in three sets. But he lost 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 7-6 (7/2) to Fabio Fognini last night.

However, his confidence seems to be growing by the day and Australian Open organisers said the former world No. 1 had committed to extending his comeback into the Majors in January.

"Confirmed: Andy Murray will return to compete at the #AusOpen in 2020," they tweeted.

The Australian Open website said Murray "will return to the main draw with a protected ranking of No. 2 and restored physical powers".

Murray said after his win over Londero that his movement on the court felt like it was steadily improving.

"In the beginning, I didn't necessarily feel good, but last couple of weeks have been I think much improved," he said.

In 2013, Murray became the first British man to win Wimbledon for 77 years, ending the nation's obsession with finding a champion to follow in the footsteps of Fred Perry.

He repeated the feat in 2016, adding to a glittering career that also includes the 2012 US Open, two Olympic gold medals and 45 ATP crowns.

Australian Open organisers hope there will be another blast from the past if Belgium's Kim Clijsters can meet her goal of taking to the court again in January after an absence of more than seven years.

A crowd favourite in Melbourne, the 36-year-old retired to have a family but made a surprise announcement last month that she was making a comeback in 2020.

Clijsters has won four Grand Slams, including the 2011 Australian Open. Murray has made the final five times at Melbourne Park, losing four times to Novak Djokovic and once to Roger Federer. - AFP

Tennis