FOR the last two months, the status of Andy Murray’s injured hip has been harder to track than Lord Lucan’s GPRS co-ordinates.

A minimalist statement delivered on September 6 - the height of the US Open second week - which said the Scot was ‘likely’ out for the season, was all anyone had to go on, besides the odd Instagram post in the last week or two showing him serving or hitting balls in practice.

So little wonder if there was a feeding frenzy as the UK tennis media descended on the SSE Hydro for last night’s Andy Murray Live charity event to watch him take on the biggest hitter of all, Switzerland’s Roger Federer, in an exhibition match.

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For all the amusement earlier in the day when the greatest tennis player of all time was confronted with a childhood picture of him wearing a Scotland strip – by the end he would delight the crowd by cavorting around in a kilt with Murray in a ‘See you Jimmy’ wig which he said at least 'covered his bald patch' - there was only one mystery which everyone wanted to get to the bottom of and that was the status of the Scot’s troublesome hip.

Did Murray remain confident of returning to competition, as he had previously indicated, for the traditional Australian Open warm up event in Brisbane? And had the various specialists he had consulted during the autumn, as he agonised over whether to go under the knife for the second major piece of surgery in four years, told him he would ever be able to make a full recovery?

Well, we got at least some of the answers yesterday, both in the pre-event press conference and the match itself, along with generous portions of entertainment for the capacity 10,800 crowd and further bumper charity cash for Unicef and Sunny-sid3up. For the record, the final score, perhaps pretty much the least important thing all night, ended 6-3, 3-6, (10-6) in Federer’s favour. That awkward hobble between points was still there too, but all in all Murray moved well enough and played well enough for a man who hasn’t played competitively for just shy of four months.

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You almost had to remind yourself that it was this week last year that the new World No 16 was ascending to the summit of the sport for the first time. “I was really happy to be out here again and I thought it went really well,” he said. “There were things I would like to have done better but for my first match in four or five months that was pretty good. My hip felt pretty good, not perfect yet, but it is getting better.”

Considering all the scare stories earlier in the year, it was a fairly extensive and good-natured update the 30-year-old gave on his rehab earlier in the day. Thankfully surgery wasn’t the recommended course of action. And for the last 10 days or so, Andy had been hitting daily, for two hours at a time, even if the focus was more technical fine-tuning and core strength work in the gym than bounding hell-for-leather along the back of a court. For now, his plan of attack for Australia involves a shorter training block in Miami, and arriving there earlier than ever, most likely before Christmas. But until he is sure to be 100% fit, he won’t be playing.

“When I get back on the court next year and start playing again it might not come immediately at the beginning of the year,” he said. “I might not play my best tennis straight off, but there’s nothing making me think I won’t [make a full recovery].

“You never know how you’re going to come back from injuries,” he added. “But I believe that with the work that I’m doing – and I have been hitting the ball very well in practice - that will be the case. It’s just that there is a difference between that 75-80 per cent practice and going flat out at 100% for two-and-a-half or three hours on the match court. Until I do that I can’t say for certain, but I think I’ll be able to come back just fine.

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“There are a few things going on in my hip that I don’t need to talk about here but ... I spoke to a bunch of specialists but surgery was not recommended for me and obviously that’s great. You never know how you’re going to come back from surgery. If you can go a conservative route it’s better. So I sat down with my team and it was like: ‘let’s just take time to get ready again, do all of the rehab, get yourself as strong as possible’.

“What have I been doing? It depends a bit on the day. Some days I’ve been on court for a couple of hours. But those two hours are not a 100% intensity. I’m not doing, like, a massive pounding through my body and my joints – but I’ve spent a decent amount of time on court. I’ve spent more time in the gym with my physios but the last week, 10 days, I’ve been on the court two hours most days, just trying to build up slowly.

“I hope I’m there [in Brisbane]. Things have been going pretty well. But you just never know, you have setbacks then things come on quite quickly as well. Some days I’ve felt great, some days not so good but I’m getting there and I’ll come back when I’m ready and 100% fit. I probably made a bit of 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 it needs and I will come back when I’m ready.”