Andy Murray column: Hard work starts now for possible singles return

In his regular BBC Sport column, Andy Murray talks about hitting the gym as he tries to move closer to a singles return, what he enjoyed most about playing again at Wimbledon and the complicated world of setting up doubles ‘dates’.

Now my Wimbledon is over, my focus will switch to doing a lot of physical work over the next four to six weeks to improve the strength in my hip.

That means a lot of heavy weightlifting in the gym, which is a part of training that I don’t particularly enjoy doing.

During a hip resurfacing operation, where the head of the femur is capped by metal, a lot of muscles are severed and stitched back up so it takes a lot of time and needs hard physical work to recover properly.

That strength is not going to come back in just three or four months, it could take nine or 12 months.

I need to get those muscles back to a certain level before I can go on a singles court and try to play best of five sets, otherwise I could do damage if the strength isn’t there.

I’m happy to be pain free and want to get my hip as good as it can be, then once it is strong again I can get back to competing.

That means doing lots of lifting exercises with a hex bar and an Olympic bar – they are the type of barbells you see in the weightlifting areas of your local gym and used for dead lifts, squats and other strength-building exercises.

The Olympic bar weighs 20kg with weights on either side so I do a lot of work with those, but I don’t do loads of machine-based work.

Weightlifting is something which I find quite easy to do psychologically because you can either lift the weight or you can’t.

Cardiovascular training is different because if you’re not strong enough then you can stop and give up. That’s what I like about it, you have to push yourself to do better, run a little bit further or go a little bit faster.

If you’re not quite into it mentally then you’re not going to get as good a result so that side of training helps you improve psychologically too.

Last year, before I had the hip surgery, I went to Philadelphia to do some reconditioning work and there aren’t any plans to go there again.

But if I’m going to be here in London for a few months, then I will try to break it up a little bit and go somewhere, because it can be boring doing the rehab in the same place every day for a few months.

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I was just glad to play Wimbledon after tough year

Of course I wanted to go further than the second round in the men’s doubles and the third round in the mixed, but considering how tough the past year has been, it was good to just get out there and play.

As I reflect on my return to Wimbledon, my overriding emotion is enjoyment.

I was practising here about six or seven weeks ago, hitting on the clay courts and not knowing if I’d be playing during the grass-court season or not.

They were starting to paint the lines on the court, prepare all the backdrops around the grounds and put all the hospitality tents up – it left me thinking how disappointed I would be if I had to miss the tournament again.

I was excited to be back playing here and, although I felt nerves and I felt pressure, it was not to the same degree as I usually would playing in the singles.

What I particularly enjoyed was being around the locker room and having that camaraderie with the other players and the support staff.

I know a lot of them really well having been on the tour together for years and it was great to be part of that again.

Doubles was fun – but finding a partner can be awkward!

Doubles is a competitive environment and the players want to win, obviously, but I found it is little more sociable because the players are chatting and interacting that bit more.

It was also interesting to learn how doubles works – when you’re trying to find partners it can get a little complicated!

I ended up playing with Pierre-Hugues Herbert after he decided not to play with Nicolas Mahut and in the mixed doubles I asked a few players, including Ashleigh Barty and Kristina Mladenovic, who said ‘no’.

When I mentioned I had been turned down by some people I started getting messages from a number of different players and then you wonder how you’re going to decide who to play with.

That was tricky but luckily I got to play with one of the all-time greats in Serena and it was an amazing experience.

Being part of a duo again was great because I’ve always enjoyed playing doubles.

I’ve had the opportunity to play a few matches with my brother Jamie in great atmospheres at the Davis Cup and people enjoy watching it.

It is a different set of skills to singles and the communication between the two players is so important.

You can never have a perfect partner but you need to complement each other’s games well and that is the secret to having a good team.

When I played with my brother, he is brilliant at the net and I set him up when I return. You need to work together which is not what I’m used to as a singles player.

I’ve enjoyed it a lot and could play more doubles in the future but ultimately my goal is returning to singles if I’m able to – and that’s my focus over the next few months.

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