Murray’s risky return to the tennis tour.
Andy Murray’s world has changed upside down over the past few months. The double Olympic Gold medallist, three time grand slam champion and Davis Cup winner made a tearful omission in January. In a pre event press conference ahead of the Australian Open, Andy broke down when he talked about the constant severe hip pain he had been suffering the previous 18 months. The Scot who then underwent hip resurfacing surgery to repair his damaged hip made a return to the tour at the Fever Tree Championships.
Few would have predicted a return to the tour at all especially given that this operation is usually carried out on individuals over the age of 50. Hip surgeons Winston Kim and Adam Hoad-Reddick explain the challenges posed by a 32-year-old returning from an operation that is mostly done on over-50s.
“My hip was always on my mind because every single step I took was painful. I don’t think I realised how much it was affecting my general well-being and happiness.”
Winston Kim a hip surgeon from Manchester Hip and Knee Clinic stated that “There is no turning back from now,”
‘’the vast majority of hip surgeons would be nervous about performing a hip resurfacing because of the potential risks, particularly in such a young, elite athlete.”
Andy has always aspired to return to top level sport again. There can be no doubt he has been made aware of the medical risks of the metal on metal procedure. Winston Kim mentions that young men like Andy who are keen to get back to impact activity must balance the risk of returning to the sport with that of the metal wear in the hip leading to increased ion levels. Evidence tells us that high blood metal ion levels result in osteolysis which is the destruction of tissues around the joint.
Few would have predicted such a return to the game as Andy has enjoyed. 4 epic doubles matches against top opponents. Murray was almost vintage in his excellent returning and his penetrating groundstrokes. As this fairy-tale would have it Murray and Lopez would go on to lift the doubles title after a championship breaker in the final. Incredible scenes at the Queens club.
It remains to be seen whether Murray will be able to return to the singles court. Winston Kim says that such an aspiration does not come without risks. There is still a lot of uncertainty regarding how Murrays hip will react to the week in week out rigours of the men’s professional tennis tour. Bob Bryan returned to action after similar surgery but singles is a lot more demanding on the body. Surgeons are naturally pessimistic and Kim suggests that Andy needs to listen to his body much more than he has in the past. In his thirties and fresh from this operation Andy really needs to manage his own expectations.
A singles return is possible not probable.
As heart-warming as it was to see Murray return to the court in a victorious manner it is not a given that he will return to the singles. As Hoad- Reddick says ‘it is not the playing on court that is the problem it’s the hundreds of hours on court and in the gym to maintain his fitness and keep his level up.’ To be competitive at singles once again Murray needs a huge engine to cover the court. This ofcourse requires all the associated training which in itself may cause hip issues.
For Murray fans it has been a bittersweet return to the tour. It is fantastic to see Andy back on a court being competitive and most importantly smiling. Expectations should be tempered especially at Wimbledon when Murray Mania could recommence once again. If the return to the tour continues on a positive way perhaps we can consider a return to the singles tour in 2020?