Federer backs injured Murray to recover for Wimbledon

MELBOURNE: Switzerland’s Roger Federer hits a return against Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka during their men’s singles semi-final match on day 11 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne yesterday. — AFP

LONDON: Roger Federer expects Andy Murray to defend the Wimbledon title despite his hip injury scare, but he warned the world number one not to play through the pain if he is seriously hurt. Murray’s fitness has become a major issue ahead of the start of Wimbledon on Monday after the Scot was forced to pull out of two grass-court exhibition matches at the Hurlingham Club this week. The two-time Wimbledon winner withdrew from facing Lucas Pouille on Tuesday due to his sore hip, then opted not to take part in his scheduled practice session on Wednesday.

Yesterday, Murray revealed he wouldn’t play his second exhibition today because he wanted to continue resting his hip. With Wimbledon just days away, Murray’s fitness woes have sparked fears he might miss the tournament. But as the defending champion, Murray has the honour of opening proceedings on Wimbledon’s Centre Court next week and Federer believes the 30-year-old will be there for the start of the tournament. “We’re talking like he’s in hospital almost. It seems like he can’t walk no more,” Federer told reporters at a Laver Cup launch in Wimbledon on Thursday. “The way I know Andy, he is tough as nails. I feel like he will be there on opening Monday. “There are injuries and injuries. He would have to be seriously injured not to play.

“For me if he can be get through the first round and feel better after he should play. I expect him to play.” While Federer is confident top seed Murray will be ready to feature at the All England Club, the seven-time Wimbledon champion acknowledged it would be foolish to play if he doesn’t believe he is fit enough to make it through the gruelling two-week tournament. “You would need to feel like you could play for 14 days, if you feel you can only play one match it isn’t good enough,” Federer said. “Going over the best-of-five sets over two weeks, only the tough ones will survive, it will flush you out. “You need to feel confident in your body otherwise what’s the point. “The world is watching, the defending champion opening the court is a big deal. “Because it’s a big deal you want to feel as close to 100 percent as possible.”

Even if Murray is fit enough to play, he goes into Wimbledon desperately short of time on grass after suffering a shock Queen’s Club first-round defeat against Australian world number 90 Jordan Thompson. But Federer says Murray is experienced enough on grass to be able to quickly adapt to the unique demands on the surface. “Yes sure, it’s ideal is to win everything beforehand and to feel great in practice, but the most important thing for him is to get through the first week,” Federer said. —AFP

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