sport news Andy Murray insists he would never have got back on court without support from ...

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Forty miles and nearly four years on from a great victory, Andy Murray was back on court in Belgium on Tuesday night and seeking to complete what has been a mini comeback tour.

The atmosphere in Antwerp's draughty Sportspaleis was far removed to that when he led Great Britain to glory in the Davis Cup final, nearby in Ghent, but playing in the European Open first round was a triumph of sorts, well beyond his 6-4 7-6 over home favourite Kimmer Coppejans.

It is his fourth tournament in four weeks and Murray has largely conquered the hip problems that threatened to truncate his career but, sitting in the bowels of this makeshift tennis stadium, he was also keen to give credit elsewhere.  

Andy Murray was on Tuesday night back on court in Belgium, seeking to complete his tour

Andy Murray was on Tuesday night back on court in Belgium, seeking to complete his tour

Notably to his wife Kim without whom, he reveals, he would probably never have got back to this stage. She is expecting their third child this month, and he is pleased to be just a relatively short train journey away. 

'There's been a number of times in the last two years that I had stopped,' he said. ' I was like, 'I don't want to do this any more'. But Kim, she was always trying to keep me going, and trying to help get me back on the court, stay motivated, and always happy for me to go and train and go away and stuff.

'There's times when you don't notice it as much, but now I'm through the other side of it I realise at the time as well how difficult that is for everyone around you. Sometimes you're probably selfish and are thinking just about yourself, and 'God I'm in this much pain', but also there's a lot of people around you that are going through that as well and there's obviously lots of conversations that I'm not part of that my family is having with my team and stuff.'

Not for the first time Murray has been grateful that Kim, daughter of renowned British coach Nigel Sears, grew up familiar with the demands of a career in the professional game and experience of how much a partner has to give.

'Through most of my career it's been like that, just very understanding of everything that I've done, like going away for training blocks in Miami after a really long year and things like that. It might not seem like much but we don't get to see each other all of the time and it does make a big difference when you don't have that, like, drama in your personal life and lots of things going on away from the court.

'She has been brilliant like that, allowed me to pursue my career and been unbelievably supportive of me doing that, so I've been very lucky. I think my family are just happy seeing me back on the court pain free again. It's been an amazing few months, really.'

You notice the subtle shift in Murray's language that has occurred in that time. He drops in references to the difficult things that are behind him, and speaks unselfconsciously of 'wanting to enjoy these last few years on the tour.'

The doubts are slowly evaporating, although he knows it will never be quite the same again for an athlete who was once timed as being even quicker off the mark in his first few paces than Usain Bolt.

Murray and his team have been constantly evaluating how close he can get back to that after two major hip operations, and will do more tests in the coming four weeks before he re-emerges to play in next month's Davis Cup finals week.

'Some of those results after Wimbledon were good. But then I watched myself on court when I played in Mallorca (the Challenger during the US Open) and I didn't look good. When I started playing singles again, as soon as I dropped a ball short I felt a bit lost, because when someone hit a big shot back into the corner I didn't feel like I could accelerate, or get to those balls. So I was often arriving there and having to defend immediately, put a

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