Caught out by his desire to try and push on through injury last season, Andy Murray will not rush his return to competitive tennis.
The British number one has not graced a tennis court in a tournament environment since the quarter-finals of Wimbledon back in July, where a hip complaint hampered his progress.
The injury led to an enforced absence from the tour, with the three-time Grand Slam winner initially targeting a return in time for the US Open before finally admitting defeat and calling time on his entire season.
During that time Murray has plummeted down the rankings, going from topping the standings to sitting at 16th – his lowest world ranking since May 2008.
He is back in training with the Brisbane International, which kicks off at the end of December and forms part of the build up towards the Australian Open, his target.
But despite the longest break from the ATP Tour of his career, the 30-year-old is wise to the dangers of pushing too hard.
“I hope I’m there (in Brisbane). Things have been going pretty well so far in the rehab,” he said.
“But you just never know. You take each week as it comes, you have setbacks and then things can go quite quickly as well.
“I’ve been training for a few weeks now, some days I’ve felt great, some days not so good.
“I’m getting there. I will come back when I’m ready and when I’m a 100 per cent fit.
“I made probably a bit of a mistake trying to get ready for the US Open but it was the last major of the year and I wanted to give it a go.
“Now it’s time to give my body the rest and recovery that it needs and I’ll come back when it’s ready.”
If Murray needed a reminder of the results of what a measured and meticulous comeback can achieve, then he needed look no further than across the net at last night’s Andy Murray Live charity event at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow.
The Scot took on Roger Federer in an exhibition singles match with his Swiss opponent having enjoyed a remarkable return this season after six months injury layoff in 2016 with a knee injury.
Federer began the 2017 in 16th - the same position as Murray is now – but walked away with the Australian Open and Wimbledon titles this season and could yet secure a seventh ATP World Tour crown at The O2 next week.
And the current world number two, speaking before taking on Murray on court, urged his rival not to get caught up in the rush to return.
“My big advice is just to get healthy again. Take your time, however long it takes,” he said.
“When you come back you want to be at a 100 per cent, otherwise you will feel like you can’t beat the best, you can’t win the big tournaments.
“It’s wise and worthwhile to take the extra week or month, whatever that may be because I’m sure Andy will have a lot of years left.”
It is all set up to be an intriguing Australian Open come January 15 in Melbourne, with Murray not the only big name aiming for a return to the big time.
Twelve-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic and 2014 Champion Stan Wawrinka are both on the road to recovery after missing the second half of this season while world number one Rafael Nadal and reigning champion Federer add to the mix as well as the up and coming young guns such as Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem.
But while patience might be needed, Murray remains convinced he can rediscover the form that saw him storm to the top of the world rankings this time last year.
“I believe I will (get back to 100 per cent fitness). You never know when you are coming back from any injury. But that’s what I’m working for,” he added.
“I believe it will be the case when I get back on the court next year and start playing again.
“I might not play my best tennis straight off the bat but there is nothing that is making me think I won’t come back.
“You never know how you’re going to come back from injuries but I’ve been hitting the ball well in practice, there is just a difference between that 75-80 per cent practice and going flat out 100 per cent for two and a half, three hours on a match court.
“Until I do that, I can’t say for certain, but I think I’ll be able to do just fine.”