MELBOURNE: Andy Murray will make his Grand Slam return at the Australian Open in January, a year after career-saving hip surgery, tournament organizers announced on Tuesday.
The British three-time major winner has been slowly working his way back to fitness and is now ranked 289th, up from 503rd just a week ago.
Murray, 32, won his opening match at the Shanghai Masters on Monday, beating Argentine qualifier Juan Ignacio Londero in three sets, following a quarter-final appearance in Beijing last week.
With his confidence seemingly growing by the day, Australian Open organisers said the former world number one had committed to extending his comeback into the majors in January.
“Confirmed: Andy Murray will return to compete at the #AusOpen in 2020,” they tweeted.
The official Australian Open website said Murray “will return to the main draw with a protected ranking of number two and restored physical powers”.
He has made the final five times at Melbourne Park, losing four times to Novak Djokovic and once to Roger Federer.
However, arguably his most heartbreaking moment at the season-opening Grand Slam came not on the court but at an emotional press conference before this year’s tournament.
Murray broke down in tears describing how the pain in his right hip, which had been operated on six months earlier, had become unbearable.
“I can play with limitations. But having the limitations and the pain is not allowing me to enjoy competing or training,” he said, later revealing that even walking his dog had become a gruelling ordeal.
Tributes flowed for the well-liked Scot, with Billie Jean King called him “a champion on and off court.”
Players also farewelled him in an emotional video screened on centre court after he lost an epic five-setter to Roberto Bautista Agut, with most believing his Grand Slam career was over.