Andy Murray's post-comeback decisions have suggested that he isn't ready to do anything which could potentially give him more health issues as he has been extremely cautios with the decisions he has been making since returning to the Tour in June.
The Scot delayed his comeback from a hip surgery as he withdrew from the Libema Open in 's-Hertogenbosch but returned to action by playing back-to-back grass-court tournaments in Queen's in Eastbourne. Murray's body responded well to competitive action but the Scot made a tough decision to skip Wimbledon due to precautionary reasons.
Now, a month and a half since returning to the Tour, nothing hasn't much changed as Murray is still extremely cautious and careful not to do a single bad thing -- even the smallest bad thing. After a month and half layoff, the former world No.
1 returned to action at this week's Citi Open in Washington. The Scot edged out rising stars Mackenzie McDonald in the first round after two hours and 37 minutes of action and Kyle Edmund in the second round after two hours and 32 minutes of play respectively.
The 31-year-old was then put on yet another tough test as he scraped past Romanian Marius Copil in the last-16 after three hours and two minutes of play -- in the match which ended at 03:01 AM local time as the rain delayed the start of the match.
Murray didn't hide his disappointment after the match over the scheduling as he didn't know how to recover for his quarter-final clash and suggested that he may skip withdraw. The Scot -- who left it all on the court in his first three Washington matches to reach the quarter-final -- did exactly that as he withdrew from his quarter-final clash against Alex de Minaur.
Three-time Grand Slam champion Murray, who was awarded a wildcard into next week's Toronto Masters, also announced that he won't be playing in Toronto. "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." Many jumped to the conclusion that Murray's back after his three hard-fought Washington wins -- but the reality is that the Scot is far away from being back to his old days.
Murray may be able to come through a few tough matches but it's almost impossible to see him now being a real treat at a Masters 1000 event or a Grand Slam tournament. The three-time Grand Slam champion and Olympic back-to-back champion Murray may never be able to come back to his old form -- only because his health may not allow him.
Many thought that Murray should have called it a career after seeing that his hip rehab wasn't going as planned -- but the Scot refused to give up and instead decided to give tennis another shot. Murray could go on with this safe approach for a couple of more months and use the rest of the season to give his body more tests and get a better look of what he can and what he can't do now after a hip surgery.
The Scot then should push himself really hard in the off-season -- as he has been always doing -- and try to get ready and prepared as well as possible for the next season. If Murray wants to once again be a force and contender for the biggest titles, he needs to be sure that his body will hold up during tournaments -- no matter how tough and physically challenging some matches might be.
If this continues to happen next year, it would be safe to say that we have seen the best of Murray. The feeling is that only health is the thing which could Murray prevent from returning to his old form. Murray, a great champion and one of the best athletes the game of tennis has seen in the 21st century, has never been lacking motivation, will and desire as he has always been known for his extraordinary dedication and commitment to the game.
Fellow tennis stars Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have all successfully returned to tennis after injury periods. It would be a shame not to see Murray do the same -- but arguably the Scot is in the toughest situation of them all as one of the toughest things in tennis is to see a player become the player he once was after returning from a major hip injury.
Murray may never become the player he once was but he deserves all the credit and praise for giving his best efforts for at least trying to give himself a chance to do something again. If Murray returns to his old form -- he will likely experience once again how it feels to end champion at a Masters 1000 or a Grand Slam champion.
Even if that doesn't happen -- even if he never again wins a title -- he will still be a great champion. Murray has always been a great role model to the younger generations and his recent efforts have only increased his greatness and perfectly showed who the real Andy Murray is as a person and as an athlete.