Andy Murray heads into 2020 with new approach as he bids to battle Federer, Nadal & Djokovic

Murray is set to return to Australia (Picture: Getty Images for LTA)

Less than a year on from an emotional press conference that appeared to signal the end of his career, Andy Murray is heading to Australia with renewed optimism over his future in tennis.

Murray broke down in tears last January ahead of the Australian Open before undergoing a career-threatening hip resurfacing operation.

Incredibly, just nine months on, Murray was back to title-winning ways in Antwerp – beating Stan Wawrinka in the final – and there is renewed optimism that Britain’s greatest tennis export can climb back towards the top of the sport as he prepares to fly first to Sydney to participate in the inaugural ATP Cup before heading to Melbourne for what will likely be an emotional return to the Australian Open.

Britain’s Andy Murray wipes tears from his face during a press conference at the Australian Open (Picture: AP)

It may be overly ambitious to suggest Murray can put himself in a position to add to his three Grand Slams haul next year, but a fresh outlook and approach, he hopes, will keep things in perspective.

‘I change the way I train a lot,’ said Murray. ‘I don’t work as hard as I used to. I am being smarter with what I am doing.

‘I always thought the harder I worked the better my results would be. I don’t believe in that so much. You can get the same results by being smarter.

‘It is always seen as a badge of honour to be the hardest worker. But it’s important to take a rest with your time. I probably would have had this op at some stage but a lot later if I had been smarter with how I trained.

Psychologically, I have realised what the important things are. Three months after this operation, not just being in pain anymore. Your health is your No.1 thing. the most important thing.

‘Getting to do sport for a living is amazing. I am fortunate to do that. it’s not the most important thing. I tell athletes not to get too high with the wins, too low with the losses.’

Murray will lead Britain at the ATP Cup (Picture: AMB Media/Getty)

His last match in Australia, a five sets defeat to Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, ended with Murray essentially being retired on court.

Great rivals Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic all delivered messages of good will over a TV screen but now he hopes to offer competition to the ‘Big Three’ in 2020 and beyond.

‘I guess we will see guys play into their late 30s and see it as a positive,’ he added. ‘It’s possible to keep doing it and playing until that level.

‘But if I was still playing at 38, I mean I would be very surprised with that. you would expect Roger to finish first as he is six years older than me and Novak, five years older than Rafa.

‘Seeing what they are doing is fantastic. Hopefully I can compete on the court against them again before I finish.’

Casting his mind back to his press conference breakdown less than a year ago, Murray explained why he had previously kept tight-lipped over his injury struggles while thanking his fellow professionals for the amount of support he received in the aftermath of his tearful outburst.

Murray will hope to get back towards his best in 2020 (Picture: Getty)

He said: ‘It was really hard because up until that point, when I had been asked, my closest family and friends knew, and my team knew I was really struggling, but as a professional athlete, when you turn up at tournaments and you get asked by the media and fellow coaches etc how you are doing and how are your hips doing, I am not going to say to someone I might be playing next day: ‘Oh my hips feels terrible. I can’t run to my forehand and I can’t serve’ because I might have to play them the next day.

‘So you are always putting on a bit of a front and a brave face to say that I am doing a little bit better, the hip is doing good. But that wasn’t actually the case.

‘And then in Australia was the first time I had opened up to everyone and said how much I had been struggling and how I was feeling and that was a really important moment for me because the support from the tennis community was amazing and helped a lot in that period. And I needed it.’

MORE: Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova pay tribute to Andy Murray after ‘tough to watch’ documentary

MORE: What is the climbing machine Andy Murray uses in ‘Resurfacing’ documentary?

MORE: ‘No chance!’ – Goran Ivanisevic, Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski rate Andy Murray’s chances of winning another Grand Slam


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