MELBOURNE — Andy Murray is a “trailblazer” in sport thanks to his post-surgery exploits, says another tennis player who had the same hip inserted.
Murray was told by doctors in 2017 that he would never play professional sport again, but after having a metal joint inserted in 2019, he reached the third round of the Australian Open last week and played two epic five-setters in the space of three days.
Bob Bryan won 16 grand slam doubles titles with his brother Mike as well as two Olympic medals including gold at London 2012, and had the same hip procedure as Murray in 2018.
“I think it was like Andy, just no cartilage left,” Bob Bryan said.
“And in that case, you have to go for the metal implant surgery and the doctor was optimistic. He said, ‘I got an NBA player back, I’ve had a baseball player back, I think I can do it’.
“And it was really the only option. And I think that it was a last resort.
“What do you have to lose at that stage? You’re pretty much written off.”
After a resurfacing operation that did not solve his specific issue, Murray looked into the procedure, known as a “Birmingham hip”, which saves more bone than the traditional replacement of the entire joint.
He spoke to every athlete he could find who had undergone the procedure, including Bryan, and he subsequently endorsed it.
“But I told him [Murray], for doubles, this will be good,” Bryan added.
“For singles, I don’t know, that’s up to you to blaze the trail there. And he’s blazing it amazingly.
“It’s pretty much the story of the week, in my opinion.
“He’s playing the most physical matches of the week, and backing it up with incredible recovery.
“I talked to 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.”
In fact, Murray’s main complaints after his five hours and 45 minutes on court against Thanasi Kokkinakis were a cluster of blisters on his feet and an aching lower back that prevented from hitting certain serves.
“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,” Bryan said.
“I think that was an adjustment for him at the start but he’s got to figure it 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 gonna see some good years out of him, coming up.”
Murray’s focus, unless he U-turns on his current intention to skip the French Open, is now Wimbledon. Even if he does play Roland Garros, it seems unlikely he will think about winning it. With so few grass-court specialists on the tour and his level of comfort on the surface, he will gear the next five months towards Wimbledon and playing his best there.
“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,” Bryan said.
“I think he’s gonna 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.”