For the first time since Mons 2005, Andy Murray will play a match on the Challenger level at Rafa Nadal Open in Manacor. Recovering from career-threatening hip injury and two surgeries, Murray pushed his body beyond the limits at the Australian Open in January, battling with Roberto Bautista Agut for more than four hours and leaving the press conference in tears, unsure about his tennis future.
Still, a former world no. 1 had made great progress in the following months and decided to make a return at Queen's, winning the doubles title with Feliciano Lopez and competing in five more ATP tournaments with different partners to build momentum and get back into competitive rhythm.
After two singles losses in Cincinnati and Winston-Salem, Andy decided to skip the US Open and get back to the Challenger level for the first time in almost 14 years, traveling to Rafa Nadal Academy where he will face the 17-year-old Frenchman Imran Sibille in the first round on Monday.
Without the burden of big expectations, Andy wants to play as many matches as possible and test his body ahead of more serious challenges in Zhuhai, Beijing and Antwerp, shaping his fall schedule nicely and hoping to play at his best again in 2020.
"I'm not thinking about winning the tournament, just want to come and play competitive matches against quality rivals ranked around the top-100. I hope I can get the opportunity to play against some of them and test myself.
I feel good, I got here nice and early to get used to conditions and we will see what happens. I was at Nadal's Academy before, three years ago before the Olympics in Rio and once before to prepare for the clay season when the Academy wasn't totally finished.
Not it has changed a lot, we are staying at a nice hotel and the gym is also beautiful, they have done a fantastic job. It would be nice to win the tournament, you want to give your best at every event but the most important thing for me is to play matches, I didn't play that many singles encounters and I don't know how the body would react after three or four matches but I hope it will be o.k."