London: Former world number one Andy Murray made a victorious return after what he described as ‘life-changing’ hip surgery at a raucous Queen’s Thursday.
The three-time Grand Slam champion partnered Spain’s Feliciano Lopez to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 victory in his first competitive match in five months.
Playing on a packed centre court including his wife Kim, Murray showed little fear in stretching himself despite being off the circuit since January.
His friend Lopez did not show any sign either of being burdened by the allegations made against him of match-fixing in the Spanish media, which he strongly denied Wednesday.
Murray said afterwards he would be playing doubles at Wimbledon with Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
Murray said he had learned quite a bit from the match.
“I expected to be the worst player on the court and to not feel particularly good on the court which you know was probably the case in the first set,” he said.
“I started to play better in the second and have zero discomfort in my hip which would not have been the case last year, I would have been aching and throbbing,” he added.
Murray, who will take to the court again Friday as he and Lopez play the last match on centre court against yet to be decided opponents, said a return to singles remains a while away.
“I feel optimistic about the future,” said Murray, although he would be making history as no player has returned to singles after undergoing such an operation before. “I don’t know how long it will take to get to that level, but you know, hopefully not too long.”
Murray, who said he had tried to find a mixed doubles partner for Wimbledon, said that he had been concerned at some parts of the match.
“The court can get quite slippery and when I was outside the doubles alley I felt a bit uncomfortable at times,” he said.
He told the BBC immediately after the match that he felt the nerves.
“I felt quite relaxed in the build-up, but we said as we were walking on to the court that we were starting to feel a bit nervous,” he said. “But you need those butterflies.”