Rather than an official ATP tournament, we are talking about a fundraising exhibition entitled Andy Murray Live. Such extra-curricular outings are usually ignored by the wider game, yet Tuesday’s outing will be assessed as closely as many finals – and not just because his opponent is Roger Federer. Everyone wants to know how Murray’s dodgy hip is bearing up.
Murray has been out for 118 days – the longest spell off court of his career – but plays an exhibition charity match against the world No2 as he looks to step up his recovery with the plan to return for Brisbane on New Year’s Eve.
During his rehab he has taken up gyrotonic training – an holistic method which combines pilates and yoga and aims to increase flexibility.
The gyrotonic has been credited with the up turn – the method uses pulleys and weights to spin the body through a series of low-impact contortions.
It puts focus on spiralling and twisting and aims to improve efficiency of body movement.
Michael Davison, a sports-medicine specialist and managing director of Isokinetic London, explains the difficulties for tennis players getting back into the game after injury.
He told the Telegraph : “You can’t manage your minutes, like you would in football by coming on for half-an-hour towards the end. No-one knows how long a match will last or how far you might go in a tournament. So an exhibition like this is the nearest thing Murray will be able to get to playing competitive tennis in a controlled environment.”
Davison added: “Murray’s people talk about rest and rehabilitation but it’s not as if he isn’t training hard. The normal practice would be around five hours a day, broken up into three sessions. For your cardiovascular fitness, you start out with aqua-jogging, then move onto a grinder [an exercise bike for the arms] and normal cycling.
“At the same time, he’s been doing his gyrotonics, trying to mobilise the hip area while also strengthening the core, the quads and the glutes for extra stability. Joints do wear out, but Andy is still relatively young. He won’t opt for surgery unless it really is the final option.”
Murray struggled with his back through Queen’s and Wimbledon and eventually decided to miss the rest of the year after bowing out early in SW19.
Meanwile, Federer is licking his lips and the chance to take on Murray before the end-of-season championships at the O2.
“We’re going to have a good time,” Federer said. “I think it’s wonderful what he [Andy Murray] is doing in his philanthropic efforts.
“When people came away from Zurich, so many told me how much fun Andy actually was, what a great sport he was, so I was so happy he did that.”
Murray went to Zurich to play Federer in April in the Match for Africa 3.
Federer added: “I can’t wait to return the favour.