After a year in which he played just four tournaments, Andy Murray sounded a strong note of optimism yesterday when he said he is looking forward to challenging for titles again in 2021 and that he is aiming for another Olympic medal.

Restricted by a nagging groin injury – as well as the coronavirus break - the 33-year-old has been working hard in the gym in recent weeks and sees no reason why, even with his metal hip, he can’t be as fit and strong as ever, and be competing in the latter stages of tournaments.

“If I’m fit, I will, Murray said yesterday. “I haven’t forgotten how to play tennis.”

“I’ve seen enough in the limited amount I have played in the last year - basically from Asia through until Antwerp last year - and then the matches I played over in New York, I was beating a top 10 player (Alexander Zverev) in Cincinnati, top 50 players, and then obviously at the end of last year I was still winning against guys like Stan (Wawrinka, when he won Antwerp for his first title since his 2019 operation).

“So I know I will perform and win big matches if I can get properly fit and healthy for an extended period of time. And that’s why I’m doing the work just now to try and avoid having any issues next year.”

The Olympics, he said, will be “very important” to his scheduling. “I'll have to wait and see what happens (he will need a wildcard to compete) but I would love to compete in the Olympics again, to get another opportunity to do that would be huge for me. It would be in the top few priorities for the year.

“Obviously I'd love to get the opportunity to play at Wimbledon again, same with the Aussie Open, and then, if I'm fit and well, I'd be pumped to go and try and win another medal in Tokyo."

Murray practised with fellow Briton Dan Evans for two hours yesterday and said all the work he’s done off it points toward a positive start to 2021.

“I've been doing tons of work in the gym and trying to build towards beating all of my personal bests in the gym, which has been quite exciting for me,” he said. “I'm really motivated to do that so that I can go into the New Year knowing that.

“The only thing that I maybe won't get to the same level is the speed. But I'm hoping that by improving my strength and my power, that that will help me get a little bit faster on the court. There's no reason (with) everything else, I can't get back to what it was before. And that wasn't the case probably in the last year, really. So, I feel good."

After losing heavily to Wawrinka in the first round at Roland-Garros in late September, Murray said he would have to take a hard look at himself. And though he had intended to play both back to back events in Cologne last month, he lost badly to Fernando Verdasco in round one and called an early end to his season.

“I hadn't been right since my first match at the US Open,” Murray said.

“I'd had this issue and it was just up and down and never really got fixed. It was getting better when I would take time off and then build up to train, but then as soon as I started competing again it was getting worse.

“That's why at the end of the Verdasco match I was pretty down because obviously I felt pretty good over in New York, I lasted the five-set match with (Yoshihito) Nishioka, that was the first five-set match I've played and I felt really good during it. I just woke up the next day and had this tendinitis.

“That's more what I was upset about because I knew that things weren't great and I wanted to finish the season and get the opportunity to play more matches but physically I wasn't in a great place. That was tough.”

Murray said a test of his body fat percentage, which was not as good as he would like, had been enough to re-motivate him for the coming year.

“I was like, right, I can get myself in much better shape than I'm in just now,” he said. “I've worked hard to get to this point but I can do better. I could make sure I'm eating better, I can make sure I'm stronger in the gym.

“I think next year I’m going to be alright. I think with my age and also with the metal hip, I can’t really afford to have any chinks or be slightly heavier than what I should be or have weaknesses in my body that I maybe could have got away with when I was younger.”

Just how he begins 2021 is still up in the air, with the players still awaiting news for when they will be allowed to travel to Australia, due to the country’s coronavirus restrictions.

Murray says he’s ready to go and in the longer term, with vaccines on the horizon, the former world No 1 believes that players should be told to take the vaccine if they want to play in tournaments.

“I would hope that all the players would be willing to do that for the good of the sport – providing everything has proved to be safe, clinical trials and everything have been done and there are not any significant side effects,” he said.

“I guess we're not going to know the long-term effects potentially for a while. But, from what I've been hearing on the TV and on the news, is that there shouldn't really be any long-term effects. I'm confident that players would be into it if it meant the Tour going back to normality.”