MELBOURNE, Oct 8: Andy Murray will make his Grand Slam return at the Australian Open in January, a year after career-saving hip surgery, tournament organisers 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 quarterfinal appearance in Beijing last week.
With his confidence seemingly growing by the day, Australian Open organisers said the former World No. 1 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 calling 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.
�It�s very sad that you have to take that position, but sometimes life is not perfect,� Rafael Nadal said.
�I just want to say thanks for the things that you gave to our sport.�
But the match against Bautista Agut rekindled Murray�s competitive spark and he opted to fight on and undergo hip resurfacing surgery.
American doubles legend Bob Bryan had endured the procedure � which involves inserting an artificial hip implant with a rod that goes right down to the femur � and warned Murray there would be no easy road back.
�No one�s ever come back with this surgery on the singles court,� he said at the time, adding that if anyone could do it a renowned fighter like Murray was prime candidate.
Murray said after his win over Londero that his movement on the court felt like it was steadily improving.
�In the beginning I didn�t necessarily feel good, but last couple of weeks have been I think much improved,� he said. � AFP