FORMER Wimbledon champion John McEnroe has tipped Andy Murray to be a contender for the title at this year’s Championships.

Six years after he won his second Wimbledon title, Murray is back at the All England Club on the cusp of the world’s top 50, with a metal hip and trying to shake off a niggling abdominal injury.

And though six-time champion Novak Djokovic and Australian Open and French Open winner Rafael Nadal head the field, McEnroe feels that the 35-year-old is a live contender to win again.

“I absolutely do,” said McEnroe, three times a Wimbledon champion himself. “If he's fit, I believe he is one of the contenders. I actually believe he'd be one of a handful of guys that could win it. I don't know if he is fully fit.

“Maybe he doesn't even know that. But he's got loads of experience. He knows how to play better than almost anyone on that surface. He's prepared himself well, I believe, for that very moment, , and then if he's looking at Rafa and Novak, he's got to be thinking, he's going to have one last hurrah, I believe. I think that's entirely conceivable. What I don't know is how  how close to 100 percent he is.”

Murray has been unable to serve at full speed since suffering an abdominal strain in the Stuttgart final nine days ago. He missed Queen’s but providing he keeps improving, he will take his place in the draw.

Where he lands, as an unseeded player, could go a long way to deciding his fate, McEnroe said.

“Maybe he could get lucky and he plays the 32nd seed and he drops into like a place that actually would benefit him, it's not inconceivable,” he said. “Of course he runs the risk. he plays Djokovic first round. No one would want that…where he's playing a guy that would be the most difficult draw he would have.

McEnroe said Murray was defying doctors by even playing at this level with a metal hip and he had noticed a big improvement in his movement of late.

“I think sometimes we forget that, , he's been in 11 Grand Slam (finals). Maybe you guys don't, but I think some tennis aficionados forget he's been in 11 finals and won three of them and he was No 1 in the world at one point, ranking ahead of these other legends, obviously.

“I know it had to be tough for him, in a lot of ways to sort of watch these guys continue to amass records where he basically couldn't play at all. I'm not a doctor. I'm amazed that he's moving as well as he is. , if you've got a metal hip, that would tell me that you wouldn't move as well, that you would be stiffer, that you couldn't react as quickly. I just don't see how it's even possible.”

The return of Ivan Lendl for a third stint as coach, McEnroe said, was another good sign.

“I saw Ivan recently. I don't think he'd do it if he didn't believe Andy could win one. I honestly don't believe he would be part of this. So I think that that sends some type of message as well. And I'm hopeful that he can do it. That would be a hell of a story.”

With Roger Federer still recovering from knee surgery, the draw is more open than usual. McEnroe, who will again be commentating for the BBC, said he can see Murray making a big run.

“There's not a lot of people that I would bet (on) against Murray,” he said. “Honestly, if he's at the level, even at 90 percent of what he was, I think he'd beat all but like four to six people. If he's 100 percent, which is hard to believe that he is, but let's just say he's close to that, he could do anything.

“He could also lose early because deep down how much does he believe he can do it? How far back is he? These are the things that we don't know the answers. He may not know the answer to them. So it's sort of exciting because it puts him back in the mix, which I think he deserves.”