Exclusive: Henman backs Murray to return better than ever

Frank Dalleres
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FORMER British No1 Tim Henman has backed Andy Murray to return from back surgery better than ever, but warned that it may take well into next year for him to scale the heights he did in winning Wimbledon.

Murray yesterday underwent the operation in a bid to overcome the long-standing issue and is unlikely to return until the lead-up to January’s Australian Open.

Henman compares the Scot’s battle with his own shoulder problems, which required surgery in late 2003. The treatment worked and the Englishman achieved greater success than ever, but it required patience.

“I do believe Andy can come back fitter and stronger,” said Henman.

“I had many of my best results after that shoulder surgery, reaching the semi-finals of both the French and US Opens the following year. But it took me probably five months, until the clay court season, to serve without any pain.

“You have to regain the trust in your body because the pain can become so ingrained that you are waiting for it to come. So there is a physical rehab and a psychological rehab to go through. I’m confident Andy will do it, and come back stronger than ever to win more grand slam titles in the future.”

Henman believes Murray’s decision to go under the knife was “a last resort” for the world No3, and one that carries some risk.

“You only have an operation once you’ve tried everything else, and he is the kind of guy that leaves no stone unturned,” added Henman, who is set to play at December’s Statoil Masters in London.

“At some point, you have to make a decision if it doesn’t clear up. But, no matter how minor, there is always some risk with an operation and he will have to be patient.”

Tim Henman will compete in the Statoil Masters Tennis with John McEnroe, Goran Ivanisevic, Pat Rafter and Stefan Edberg at the Royal Albert Hall, 4-8 December. Hospitality from £179. Call 02082335854 or email statoilmasters@imgworld.com For more: www.statoilmasterstennis.com