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NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 29: Andy Murray of Great Britain returns the ball during his men's singles second round match against Fernando Verdasco of Spain on Day Three of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 29, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Andy Murray has given his biggest hint yet that he may once again compete at the top of his sport, after the three‑times grand slam champion admitted he hoped to return to singles competition before the end of the year.

After he made an emotional address to the Australian Open crowd following his first-round defeat against Roberto Bautista Agut in January, many thought Murray had played his last match of any kind. Four months after undergoing surgery on his right hip however, the Scot says he is largely pain free. He will compete alongside Feliciano López in the doubles competition at Queen’s Club next week and, provided there are no setbacks, at Wimbledon in July.

While Murray remains cautious about putting a date on it, a full return to the sport is now also in the offing. “It’s baby steps just now,” he said. “I’m feeling good, pretty much pain free and enjoying 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. I still have quite a lot of work to do before I’m at a level where I feel like I’ll be able to be competitive.

“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. When that is, I’m not really interested in putting a time limit on because I’m quite happy just now so I don’t need to play singles after Wimbledon or the US Open. 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.”

One player who underwent the same hip resurfacing surgery as Murray was the doubles player Bob Bryan. He returned to competition five months after his operation but has described a return to singles competition as “a different monster”. Murray says he has yet to test his recovery with any singles practice matches, though he has been hitting with the American Frances Tiafoe in training.

Murray was speaking at an event to announce a new partnership with Amazon. The online giant is set to provide a £60,000 grant to two young British tennis players, with Murray chairing a selection panel that will select the winners, one boy and one girl. “It’s important to help develop young talent in this country and the transition from juniors to seniors isn’t easy,” Murray said.

Amazon also announced that it has secured the rights to stream WTA tournament matches on its Prime subscription service. The company says it will be able to show up to 2,000 women’s matches from a minimum of 49 tournaments each year, in an agreement that runs for four years from 2020.

The news marks a further expansion of Amazon’s interest in sports broadcasting, with tennis at the centre of its strategy. Entering into the one major sports rights market not already dominated by Sky or BT Sport, Amazon now has the rights to show not only the women’s tour but also 37 ATP Tour events, the US Open and the Queen’s Club tournament next week.

Source: The Guardian

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