x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Andy Murray on the mend after back operation

World No 3 in men's tennis is unlikely to play in any of the major tournaments left this year.

Andy Murray has had a lower back problem for a while. Dennis Grombkowski / Getty Images
Andy Murray has had a lower back problem for a while. Dennis Grombkowski / Getty Images

LONDON // Andy Murray, the Wimbledon champion, is on the mend after undergoing minor surgery on his back.

The 26-year-old Scot gave the thumbs up sign lying in his hospital bed in a picture he posted on his Twitter account to show he was in good spirits after the operation.

The world No 3 announced last week that he had decided to have a minor operation to sort out a disc problem in his lower back that has been bothering him for most of this year.

That means it is unlikely he will play again this year missing the last four tournaments of the season in Asia, Paris and the World Tour Finals in London.

Instead he will aim to regain full fitness in time to begin his preparations for next year at his Miami base in early November.

Murray has committed to play in the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi starting December 26, and organizers are confident he’ll make his return to competitive play at the three-day event.

“Andy’s management team advised us that Andy had a minor procedure on his back, but we are confident that he’ll be ready to play,” tournament director Greg Sproule said Tuesday.

On Monday night, Murray posted on Twitter: “Thanks for all the well wishes, means a lot to me...” alongside the photo of him lying in a hospital bed with both thumbs up.

“First thing I said when I came round was “did I win?” #somethingsneverchange.”

The back issue that Murray has battled with flared up badly in May during the Rome Masters, prompting him to abandon a second-round match against Marcel Granollers and pull out of the French Open.

The Scot and his team have carefully dealt with the complaint since then, and it did not prevent his run to Wimbledon glory in July.

While he played a full role in Great Britain qualifying for the elite World Group of the Davis Cup with victory in Croatia, there were concerns that his back was giving him trouble.

However, Murray won two singles matches and partnered Colin Fleming to a doubles victory as Great Britain defeated Croatia 4-1 in Umag.

His straight-sets triumph over Ivan Dodig, which gave Britain an unassailable 3-1 lead, looks to have been Murray’s final match of the year, one which saw him end the 77-year wait for a home men’s singles champion at Wimbledon.

Providing all has run smoothly with his surgery, Murray should be back on court and targeting the Australian Open in January, before returning to Davis Cup duty at the end of the month when Leon Smith’s GB team face the United States.