PEOPLE from Scotland don’t go on to become the best tennis player in the world without handling adversity along the way. For many, just finding a court, some reasonable weather and someone decent to hit with, can be enough of a struggle. But as a satisfied crowd filtered out of the second successful year of the Andy Murray Live event at the SSE Hydro last night, it seemed clear enough that managing to overcome or accommodate this ongoing hip condition might just be the biggest battle Andy Murray has ever had to face.

As overwhelmingly positive as it was to see the 30-year-old - who we now know had become a father again to a second baby girl ‘a few weeks’ previously - back on the match court for the first time in just shy of four months, wowing Glaswegian fans as he mixed it with the imperious Roger Federer, at times in assorted parts of the national dress, there were still moments which betrayed how he is still searching to recapture the mobility around the court which has been such a huge feature of his game. Now banished to World No 16, only a year after he sat pretty at the summit of the world rankings, the Scot’s body will have been weary this morning, not least as the devilish Mansour Bahrami seemed determined to have fun at his expense during their exhibition doubles match by dragging him to all points of the court.

Sure, it took a while for his back to settle down from the operation he underwent just months after his first Wimbledon win in September 2013. But managing a hip problem without surgery which seems to flare up most often when he moves laterally or hits a backhand promises to be even more challenging.

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While Leon Smith, the Scot’s first coach and the current Great Britain Davis Cup captain, says he can take inspiration from how Tuesday night’s opponent Roger Federer has returned to his best form after a six-month break to alleviate his own knee problems, he also feels it is wise to exercise caution. Federer might have come from nowhere to lift the Australian Open title in January but in all likelihood Murray, and the other returning heavyweights such as Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka, will still be playing catch-up when it comes to Melbourne. Assuming, that is, that the Scot sticks to his current timetable, which envisages a shorter than usual training block in Miami and arriving in Australia early prior to playing the traditional warm-up event in Brisbane.

“I would have thought Andy could be inspired by what Roger has done,” said Smith. “And HE has done it before when he had back surgery. That was a significant injury. He went through it so methodically and got back playing better than before. There is no reason why he can’t do the same again.

“But the important thing is for him to take his time," Smith added. "Andy has said that he will come back when he is 100 per cent fit. He obviously tried to come back too quickly for the US Open. He probably regrets that.

“The first time I saw Andy was last Wednesday down at Raynes Park hitting with Jay Clarke – and I thought he looked good. I hadn’t seen him since Wimbledon so I didn’t know what to expect. He looked promising. But it must be bloody frustrating knowing what you can or should be doing with the ball when it comes to points. It can feel good in a controlled environment and then you go to the randomness of points.

“The medical information and data that is available is way better for everyone these days. Players can use that to extend their careers. But for the men’s tour, it’s quite amazing we’ve had no Andy, Novak or Stan Wawrinka. The year before there was no Roger or Rafa. Nishikori and Raonic were out, too. Now we’ve got a resurgence coming back to Australia and everyone is saying: Oh my God. It will be amazing seeing them all back competing because we missed it. The younger players have been used to being in the latter stages of tournaments because of the absence of the big players too. It is set to be a bumper 2018.

“Clearly, if you have been healthy and playing well like Roger and Rafa then of course they will be favourites for Melbourne. They are where they need to be in terms of matches played. Okay Roger came back last year to win it but ... that was not normal.”

While Andy goes back to complete the next eight weeks of his rest and rehab, the focus now shifts to the likes of Federer and Rafa Nadal at the ATP Tour Finals in London which start on Sunday, in which Jamie Murray and his doubles partner Bruno Soares will attempt to uphold the family honour. “I can’t wait,” said Smith. “It’s great seeing Jamie there and to have a British interest means it will be a great event.” You could say Jamie will have top family billing for a change - were it not for the secret arrival of his second little niece.