Britain’s Andy Murray has had hip surgery in Melbourne and says he hopes to be playing again in time for this summer’s grass-court season.
The former world number one, 30, has not played a competitive match since he was knocked out of Wimbledon in July.
The ongoing problem forced the Scot to pull out of the Australian Open, which begins on 15 January.
“I’m not finished playing tennis yet. I’m going to be competing at the highest level again,” he said.
“I’m very optimistic about the future – the surgeon is very happy about how it went.”
Murray, a three-time Grand Slam champion, believes if he can return to 95% of his best, that will be enough for him to compete again at the top level.
He hopes he will be hitting balls on court again after seven or eight weeks, and has been given 14 weeks as a guide for a return from this kind of surgery.
But Murray, who has fallen to 19th in the world, said he is not “interested in coming back for a specific tournament”.
“My plan is to be back playing around the grass-court season – potentially before then – but I’m certainly not going to rush anything,” he said.
“I want to know when I come back that I’m ready.”
He was operated on by Dr John O’Donnell at the St Vincent Hospital in Melbourne on Monday.
‘My hip will feel better than a year ago, when I was world number one’
Murray withdrew from the US Open two days before the start of the tournament in August last year, and said he realised he was not ready to compete in Brisbane last week when he tested his hip against other top-50 players.
“I want to come back when I’m fit and ready to play, not to get into a situation like in Brisbane or New York, where I’m unsure when I turn up at a tournament how fit I am,” he said.
Murray has not played a competitive match since his Wimbledon quarter-final defeat by Sam Querrey on 12 July.
He said he first felt pain in his right hip during June’s French Open semi-final against Stan Wawrinka, though he has had issues with it throughout his career.
“The surgeon felt that my hip will be feeling better than it did a year ago,” Murray said. “Obviously, I was still doing fine a year ago – I was ranked number one in the world.
“I’m certainly not going to be putting in the same amount of tournaments and effort to try to get to number one in the world. I’ll be playing a reduced schedule, and then focusing more on trying to win major events and big tournaments rather than trying to achieve certain ranking goals.
“I’ve been fairly competitive with top-50 players in the world in Brisbane when I’m struggling to move, and I made the quarter-finals at Wimbledon when I literally couldn’t walk and was in so much pain.
“So if I can get myself to 95% of my best, I believe that’s enough to compete at the highest level. No question.
“The rest of my body feels fantastic. I feel really, really good physically apart from this one issue. The surgery allows me to extend my hip well, and I’ll be able to sprint.”
‘My daughter watching me play is motivating me’
Murray said it has been painful for him to walk since before Wimbledon. Though he has become accustomed to soreness in his hip, the pain he has had since last summer has had an impact on his day-to-day life.
It has also emerged that he had minor groin surgery on 18 December. That was successful in relieving some of the pain he had been experiencing, and was the reason for delaying his departure to Australia until after Christmas.
Should Murray’s rehabilitation go to plan, he will have been out of action for almost a year by the time he returns.
And he says he would like to play until eldest daughter Sophia, who was born in February 2016, is able to watch him and have “a small understanding of what it is I’ve done for my living”.
“That would be cool if she can come along and watch me hit some balls or practise just to see what it is I do,” he added.
“I like watching and seeing a lot of the other kids when they are on the tour with their parents.”