- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 28, 2018

One year ago, Andy Murray was the No. 1 ranked men’s singles tennis player in the world. At this week’s Citi Open in Washington, Murray enters the draw ranked 838th.

Apparently the algorithms aren’t kind to you when you undergo a hip surgery.

Murray has not played in a Grand Slam event since Wimbledon in 2017. He has earned a meager $30,211 in two events in 2018, and the Citi Open will be the first time during his rehab that he plays outside Great Britain.

He wouldn’t put a percentage on how healthy his hip is, but Murray said he feels better than he did during the grass-court season.

“But it’s also, I haven’t played a hard-court match since Indian Wells last year (in March 2017),” he said. “I’ll have to see how the body responds to that. Not just my hip, but the rest of my body as well. I felt pretty good in practice.”

Murray’s goal is not to resurrect his world ranking back to a certain number, but rather returning to a form that guided him to three Grand Slam titles, he said.

“If I stay fit and healthy, I’m not worried so much about ranking,” Murray said. “I want to be winning matches and competing against the best players, and that will build my fitness up quicker than anything I can do in the gym.”

In some ways, Murray’s comeback is analogous with that of Tiger Woods. Woods long owned the No. 1 ranking in his sport, and a slow recovery from surgeries plummeted him in the Official World Golf Ranking as many asked whether he would return to form again.

Woods tied for fourth when he played in the Washington area last month at his foundation’s tournament, the Quicken Loans National; now Murray will make a stop on his own comeback tour in the nation’s capital. He will play in the Citi Open for the first time since 2015, when he was upset in the second round. Regardless, Murray said he enjoys coming to the District.

“It’s a beautiful city. There’s lots to do and see, and the event in itself (has) great history,” Murray said. “When you practice in the center court you can see all the (names of) past winners up on the board. I like the conditions here. It sets you up well for the rest of the U.S. summer.”

Murray is making his return to the city at just the right time to cross paths with another world-famous British athlete. Wayne Rooney has played for D.C. United for almost a month now, and he was in town to play “soccer tennis” with Murray and his brother Jamie Murray at William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park on Friday.

Murray will face American Mackenzie McDonald in the first round of the main draw Monday. If he wins, he’ll go on to play countryman Kyle Edmund, who has been the highest-ranked British singles player since he surpassed Murray in March.

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