Andy Murray aims for singles return in 2019

Andy Murray
Murray's last competitive appearance was a five-set first-round defeat by Roberto Bautista Agut at the Australian Open in January

Britain's Andy Murray hopes to return to the singles court before the end of the year, but thinks he is unlikely to be ready in time for August's US Open.

The former world number one, who had his hip resurfaced in January, is due to play doubles at Queen's Club next week.

Murray will partner Feliciano Lopez at the Fever-Tree Championships in London.

But the 32-year-old says he still has "quite a lot of work to do" before he can be competitive in singles again.

"It's baby steps just now," Murray said.

"I'm feeling good, pretty much pain free and enjoying just training, practising, improving all the time just now.

"I don't think when Wimbledon finishes that I will just step on to the singles court the following week and everything's good.

"At this moment I've been progressing all of the time. At some stage it's probably going to plateau for a while before I'm able to kick on.

"I hope at some stage this year I would be able to get back to playing singles again. I'm not really interested in putting a time limit on it because I'm quite happy just now.

"So I don't need to play singles after Wimbledon or at the US Open to, you know, enjoy doing what I'm doing just now.

"If I can, that would be brilliant, but I don't think that's going to be the case. I think it's going to take a bit longer."

Murray has not played competitively since losing to Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round of January's Australian Open.

No player has ever resumed a singles career after the operation Murray had, although American doubles player Bob Bryan returned five months after the surgery in 2018.

Andy Murray posted an Instagram video of him serving on grass
Andy Murray posted an Instagram video of him serving on grass earlier this month, captioned 'how's it looking?'

Murray has had a few singles practice sessions since being given the all clear to increase his workload three weeks ago. One of those practices was with this year's Australian Open quarter-finalist Frances Tiafoe at the All England Club.

Murray is avoiding extended rallies for the moment, but hopes to be able to focus more on singles after Wimbledon, where he is expecting to compete in the doubles.

"I have done some singles training drills with my coach," Murray said.

"Earlier on I was hitting with singles players but I was more stationary. I was moving them rather than them moving me about.

"So I have not played proper singles. I am hoping that will come more after Wimbledon."

Jamie v Andy or Jamie & Andy?

Andy and Jamie Murray
Andy and Jamie Murray combined in Great Britain's Davis Cup triumph over Belgium in 2015

Before Murray asked Lopez to play doubles with him at the Queen's Club, he had a conversation with his brother Jamie.

"I had barely started hitting balls really at that stage," Andy recalled.

"I told him that it was not certain that I will be ready to play and I also don't want to let him down two minutes before the tournament and leave him without a partner.

"If I play Jamie here then I'd definitely be trying to win of course. It's bound to end up happening I'd imagine. I wouldn't be surprised if that was how the draw came out."

If all goes well at Queen's, Murray plans to play in Eastbourne and then the doubles at Wimbledon. However he will not be partnered by Lopez at the All England Club.

"I've spoken to a few players about that. But again, it's just difficult for me to commit to play," Murray said.

"I've just spoken to a few players who are a bit more relaxed about whether I can play or not, so not necessarily like doubles specialists but guys that if I was able to, would be up for playing, but likewise if I'm not they're fine as well."

Murray is still very much eyeing a return to the singles' circuit but he admits that playing with his brother Jamie for Great Britain in November's Davis Cup Finals in Madrid is also an appealing prospect.

"They are the kind of things that I would have missed not being able to play," he said.

"So yes, if I am fit and able I would enjoy that for sure."

Meanwhile, the WTA has confirmed that Amazon has won the exclusive rights to broadcast the women's tour for the next four years.

Amazon's online channel Amazon Prime, which already has rights to 39 ATP men's events, will broadcast a minimum of 49 tournaments in 2020.

Andy Murray and Kim Murray
Andy Murray and wife Kim visited Cheltenham Festival in March as he continues his recovery

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