Murray must remain patient despite injury woes, says Henman
Patience is a virtue and Tim Henman has urged Andy Murray to have it in order to avoid a potentially devastating setback to his tennis career.
Murray's last competitive match was a five-set defeat to Sam Querrey in the Wimbledon quarter-finals last summer, where a chronic hip problem left him hobbling off the court in agony.
The Scot attempted to manage the injury and was due to make a return in Brisbane in January, just before the Australian Open, but withdrew at the last minute and headed for a hip resurfacing operation in Melbourne.
The three-time Grand Slam champion – who turns 31 later this month –posted pictures on social media of him moving freely and hitting with young Scottish talent Aidan McHugh, while his return appears to be pencilled in for the grass-court Libema Open, which starts on June 11.
But former British No.1 Henman has urged Murray not to rush himself back into action, despite sympathising with the temptation to get back to a competitive environment as quickly as possible.
"Unfortunately Andy's season has been non-existent because he's been injured," said Henman, who was speaking ahead of the launch of new website and app deucetennis.com, an initiative that aims to increase participation in tennis.
"It's the most frustrating time as a professional athlete, when you are injured, and that is one of the challenges that you have to overcome.
"He's had an incredibly tough time – to think that he hasn't played since Wimbledon last year, did a lot of rehabilitation to avoid surgery but that didn't have the impact or the outcome that he wanted.
"He's had the surgery and we've got to keep our fingers crossed that he's moving in the right direction and he can be back on the match-court sometime soon.
"His mentality goes without saying but unfortunately this is an area where it doesn't matter what he thinks mentally, it's all about his body.
"He's got to make sure his body and his hip is 100 per cent, or as close as he can get to that, before he can really worry about competing.
"We know that the standard at the top level is so high, unless you are in peak physical condition it's going to be very difficult to compete with the best players in the world."
In Murray's absence, Kyle Edmund has usurped him as British No.1 but they are the only two Brits inside the world's top 100, while only Jo Konta (ranked 23) and Heather Watson (79) hold that distinction on the women's side.
And Henman is frustrated at the persistent lack of depth in the UK tennis ranks.
"We've obviously got some good players, led by Andy Murray and Jo Konta, but when you look at the strength in depth that is the area that has always been the biggest challenge," added Henman.
"We've only ever had one or two players coming through every four or five years.
"Kyle Edmund has made great strides, you've got Heather Watson, Naomi Broady has had some good results but we've never had great depth so that's the challenge on the performance side."
Deucetennis.com is a new website and app that will enable people to find welcoming coach-led sessions and available nearby courts and in the future find potential hitting partners and provide exclusive tennis content from pros and experts in the field.
Its aim is to increase participation in the sport across the country and Henman sees no reason it can't help to eventually address the lack of depth in British tennis at the top-end of the game
He added: "When you look at participation in terms of British tennis as a whole, the numbers are declining, and that's where I feel that something like Deuce can be the first real initiative in the grassroots of the game that can have a real big impact and hopefully change that decline.
"When you get the base of your pyramid a lot broader you get many more people playing the game, the likelihood of uncovering the next world-class player is more likely."