London | Murray comeback boost
Writing for the Daily Mail Mike Dickson reports: Andy Murray has been in confidential talks with the LTA about them staging a bespoke new tournament early this summer, specifically designed to accommodate his planned comeback.
The frontrunner to host his eagerly-anticipated return is the perhaps unlikely venue of Loughborough University’s indoor hard courts.
The twice Wimbledon champion’s management company, 77, gave an upbeat briefing about Murray’s fitness and the expectation is that he will be able to return to on-court practice later this month after undergoing hip surgery in early January.
There was also the somewhat cryptic hint that, providing all goes well on his return to training, he might return before the grass court season, which was initially his publicly-stated target.
It now appears that this could well involve an extra tournament being put on primarily for his benefit during the first week of the French Open in late May at Challenger level, the tier of event which is below that of the main ATP Tour.
Murray’s problem is that around the time of when he thinks he will be ready to return it is the height of the clay court season, a surface he would want to avoid as it is the most demanding for him to move on, and also the most different to grass.
The nearest thing that might look suitable is an obscure hard court Challenger in South Korea, which would mean him travelling there in the early part of May.
Also, the ATP Tour is very much against a star player making a comeback away from one of its mainstream events going on elsewhere.
The calendar, however, is cleared during a Grand Slam such as Paris, which starts on 27 May, and he would be free to come back at a minor tournament without objection.
It is possible to add Challenger events to the calendar at relatively short notice, and the governing body will see it as a strong curtain-raiser for the grass court tournaments that follow in the build-up to Wimbledon.
Going from indoor hard courts onto the turf is a relatively straightforward transition.