does not tend to sugar coat his answers.

He accepts there are reasons to be cheerful after his 6-4 6-4 defeat by Richard Gasquet in Cincinnati, but admits he is “quite far away from where I would like to be”.

That is to be expected after just two weeks of dedicated practice before his first singles match for seven months.

Murray will only play doubles in , when the gets under way in a fortnight. But you can now consider him a singles player above all else once again.

A singles player who expects to be back in his peak physical condition in January: 12 months after the second operation on his right hip.

“I think nine to 12 months after the operation is when I would expect to be getting close to the best that I can be physically – and speed e I should be fully recovered by 12 months,” Murray told BBC Sport.

The 32-year-old regularly measures his speed around the court. Those numbers are improving, he says, but they only tell you so much.

“They have improved, but they are quite linear speeds, and repeatable tests, whereas on a match court you are changing direction and having to react to balls and anticipate.

“The way to get that back is by playing matches. You can hit as many speed targets as you like, but once you get out on court it’s very different. I don’t feel I was very slow out on the court today, but I was not as quick as I would have liked.”

Murray will decide over the next few days whether to play singles in Winston-Salem, in North Carolina next week. He will then have plenty of opportunity to practise his singles during the before he heads in September to China, where he tends to play well.

Appearances in Zhuhai and Beijing are already in the diary, with the possibility of adding Shanghai to his schedule the week after. There are then three further weeks of tournaments in before the regular season comes to an end.

“I’m certainly not going to go backwards from here,” Murray says.

“Every time I’ve practised singles so far, it’s all just been practice sets because I was trying to get back on the match court.

“But once you actually get out there and start playing you realise, ‘Wow,’ my return needs to get better; I need to improve my serve. I need to get myself on the practice court and work on those things specifically.”

It will take Murray some time. It is not just that he has missed seven months this year.

He was only able to play six events in the preceding 18 months (on a hip that was still not fit for purpose), and even the very best need a considerable period to regain that match sharpness after such an age away from the tour.

Even if they are not playing with a resurfaced metal hip.

“It will be exciting and interesting to see how I get on,” Murray concluded.

“It’s not something that’s been tried or done before in . Hopefully if it goes well it will be an option for more athletes down the line.”


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