SHANGHAI, Oct 9: Andy Murray exited the Shanghai Masters in a fiery defeat but three tournaments in China offered enough evidence to suggest that his comeback from major surgery could have a fairytale ending.
Just over two weeks ago the 32-year-old Briton told AFP that it would be �naive� to think he will return to being the player that topped the world rankings in 2016.
At that point, the start of his time in China, he was yet to win an ATP Tour singles match since undergoing career-saving hip-resurfacing surgery in January.
At the Zhuhai Championships two days later he got that landmark first victory.
He lost his next match, to eventual champion Alex de Minaur, and said afterwards that he was playing �top 70, top 60� tennis.
Most observers felt that the three-time Grand Slam winner, who only returned to playing singles in mid-August, was being harsh on himself.
Last week he moved on to the China Open in Beijing, which boasted a stronger field, and offered more proof that his comeback was moving along very nicely.
In his opener Murray claimed his biggest post-surgery scalp yet, defeating 13th-ranked US Open semifinalist Matteo Berrettini.
Murray has consistently said his hip is pain-free but that he does not have the fitness to play several matches a week and needs to be quicker across the court.
Nevertheless, the next day he beat fellow Briton Cameron Norrie in three sets.
Victory brought another small landmark, putting Murray in the quarterfinals of a tournament for the first time in a year.
He lost in the last eight to top seed Dominic Thiem, who would go on to win the China Open, but said afterwards that the comeback was going better than expected.
�I think this (week) was maybe the best in terms of how I played since I came back,� Murray said.
His ranking, which had plunged to 503, jumped to 289.
Murray stepped up his return at the Shanghai Masters this week, defeating 56th-ranked Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero in three sets in his opener on Monday. � AFP