Andy Murray 'exhausted' ahead of U.S. Open
Andy Murray is back, but will proceed with caution.
After an eleven-month absence from the tour and hip surgery, the double Olympic champion understandably struggled to rediscover his best form.
Following two early exits in British grass-court events, Murray withdrew from Wimbledon and dropped to 839th in the ATP rankings.
However things seem to be looking up for the three-time Grand Slam winner, as he begins the hard-court season. Or are they?
Fighting spirit on show
In the Washington Open, Murray secured three successive three-set wins, before withdrawing with exhaustion.
This result may not seem particularly impressive on paper, but the true significance may lie in the manner of the victories.
Murray demonstrated an abundance of the grit and fighting spirit that has been the bedrock of his successful career.
With regular yells at himself and his coach in tough, humid conditions Murray’s desire to win was as strong as ever.
His 3.5 hour, last-16 victory over Marius Copil in the American capital finally ended at 3:02 am.
The Scot was so fatigued he was in tears.
With the U.S. Open looming on August 27, the 2012 champion made the sensible decision to withdraw from Washington and give his body a break.
In doing so he is also keeping the promise he made in June to listen to his body and avoid pushing himself to the absolute physical limit.
This seems especially poignant, given that hard-court tennis is arguably the most punishing on the body.
While the 31-year old is still recovering from surgery the risk of re-injury is high.
Understanding his limits will play a crucial part in his U.S. Open participation, and the longevity of his career.
"I'm exhausted after playing so much over the past four days, having not competed on the hard courts for 18 months," Murray said.
"I also need to be careful and to listen to my body as I come back from a long-term injury."
The Briton has also opted to skip the Rogers Cup (where he is a three-time winner) and head straight for the Cincinnati Open to give himself extra rest time to reassess his situation.
Encouraging signs for Andy Murray
The final Grand Slam of the year will start on August 27.
Murray’s form, and even his attendance, remain to be seen.
If he plays, the best-of-five set tournament will test his mental and physical capabilities.
The former number one is already back up to world no. 375 and if his body can hold up, Murray undoubtedly has the heart to compete for top honours again.