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Return to the top may be slow progress – Murray

Britain’s Andy Murray has failed to reach a Grand Slam final since winning his second Wimbledon title in 2016 © AFP/File / Glyn Kirk

LONDON, United Kingdom, Jun 17Andy Murray insists he can still win Grand Slams after almost a year on the sidelines with a hip injury, but the Scot doesn’t expect to add another Wimbledon title to his collection this season.

Murray will play his first competitive match since Wimbledon last year when he faces Australia’s Nick Kyrgios in the Queen’s Club first round next week.

The former world number one is finally ready to return to action after hip surgery in January.

Murray’s ranking has dipped to 157 during his enforced lay-off and the three-time major winner concedes it will be hard to make a flying start to his comeback.

For starters, Murray will be unseeded as he makes his way back up the rankings.

“I don’t think you miss a year of playing and then come back and start winning Grand Slams. That isn’t how this works,” Murray told the BBC.

“It’s maybe different if you’ve had four months of hard training and preparation to get ready for that. But with the situation I’m in, that hasn’t been the case.

“It’s been stop-start quite a lot of the time through the whole process. Obviously, I didn’t have surgery at the beginning, had surgery half way through. I had the groin operation as well.

“So, the expectations for me are very, very low right now and I’ll reassess what my goals are when I’m back out there competing and feeling good again.”

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With Wimbledon starting on July 2, Murray has only limited time to get back in the groove on grass.

The 31-year-old hasn’t reached a Grand Slam final since winning his second Wimbledon title in 2016.

In his absence, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have shared out the sport’s top prizes, the two old stagers looking as good as ever this year.

But, asked if he can eventually win a major again, Murray refused to write off his chances.

“I think it’s still possible, but I’m not expecting that to be the case in the next two weeks,” he said.

– ‘Good to be back’ –

Murray has won the Wimbledon warm-up at Queen’s a record five times, making the west London event the ideal venue for his return from months of gruelling rehabilitation.

“Obviously, I’d love to win Queen’s, but I’m more concerned about how I feel on the court,” he said.

“I want to learn exactly where I’m at from this week rather than putting lots of pressure on myself to win.”

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Murray was forced to miss the last three Grand Slams after several false starts in his attempted comeback.

“It’s good to be back. Through this last period there have been times when I’ve been on court practising and not quite managed to get to the start line,” he said.

“It’s been a really frustrating period and it’s been a boring period for me.

“There’s been so much rehab that I’ve done in the last nine months or so.

“A lot of the days have looked quite similar. That’s not much fun, I obviously want to be out competing.”

Murray could face Marin Cilic in the semi-finals, but the top-seeded Croatian anticipates his fellow former Queen’s winner may struggle to hit the ground running.

“Even though Andy is one of the best players on grass, I would say it is probably the most difficult surface to come back on. In terms of movement you are exposed,” Cilic said.

Former US Open champion Cilic is confident of another strong grass campaign after finishing as Wimbledon and Queen’s runner-up last year.

“Last year has given me a good base to start again on grass. I always knew I could compete with the top guys but my best level is being seen more often,” said Cilic, who reached the Australian Open final in January.

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Cilic opens his Queen’s challenge against Fernando Verdasco and he added: “I would agree that I played great at Grand Slams.

“It was incredibly consistent. That is giving me great confidence.”

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