By Eleanor Crooks, PA Tennis Correspondent, Melbourne
When Murray was weighing up whether to have the resurfacing operation four years ago, his main reference was American doubles great Bob Bryan, who had undergone the same surgery the previous year.
It gave Bryan an extra year and a bit on court, with the 23-time grand slam champion finally retiring in 2020 at the age of 42.
2 days ago I randomly bumped into the doctor who in 2017 told me “the good news is the problem you have in your hip can be fixed but you won’t be able to play professional sport again.” I think we dispelled that myth the last 5 days.😉Goodnight ❤️
— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) January 21, 2023
Bryan said of the operation: “It was really the only option. And I think that it was a last resort. I think that was Andy’s case as well. What do you have to lose at this stage? You’re pretty much written off.
“For me, it just gave me new goals and something to work for. For Andy, he is doing it on the singles court, which is a different situation altogether. But I told him, for doubles, this will be good.
“For singles, I don’t know, that’s up to you to blaze the trail there. And he’s blazing it amazingly.”
Bryan played down his influence over Murray’s surgery, saying: “He knows it a lot better than me. I didn’t watch any YouTube videos before I went in there. I just said, ‘Just cut it and let’s go’.
“He knew every little part of the procedure and he had already talked to every athlete that had it before.”
It is the sort of forensic approach that Murray has applied to his whole career and which, four years after the surgery, sees him eyeing up a strong season.
Bryan, who is playing in the Australian Open legends event, was among those caught up in the drama of Murray’s remarkable week at Melbourne Park, with the 35-year-old spending 10 and a half hours on court in victories over Matteo Berrettini and Thanasi Kokkinakis before falling just short against Roberto Bautista Agut.
— ATP Tour (@atptour) June 16, 2019
“It’s pretty much the story of the week, in my opinion,” said Bryan. “Four or five years ago, like he wrote on his Instagram, he was told he would never play pro tennis again.
“Now he’s playing the most physical matches of the week and backing it up with incredible recovery.
“I talked to (Murray’s coach) Ivan Lendl, I said, ‘How’s the hip?’ He’s like, ‘No problem at all’. And that’s what I’m feeling: the surgical hip, there’s zero problems.
“The biggest thing is finding the balance because you have one new hip and you have one old hip and how your body kind of gets used to that and how the lower back feels. I think that was an adjustment for him at the start but he’s got it figured out.
“He’s got the best team in the world of guys behind him and he works hard and he does the research and no one’s smarter than him. I think you’re going to see some good years out of him coming up.”
Although disappointed to lose in the third round, Murray left Melbourne feeling positive about his game and his fitness.
— LTA (@the_LTA) January 22, 2023
There is no doubt performing strongly at Wimbledon, where the surface most favours him, will be the big target of Murray’s season.
Bryan added: “He’s played a very physical career, he doesn’t have the hugest weapons out there and he’s done a lot of running, just like (Rafael) Nadal has done.
“I think he’s going to have a great Wimbledon. He knows how to play on grass and I think that’s the place where he really wants to do some damage.”