Andy Murray is determined to keep his career going, saying he can still play at the highest levels despite the doubts of others.
The 33-year-old former No. 1 has dropped to No. 123 in the world. He began his season in the Challengers but is now competing at tour level again, winning his opener at the ATP 500 event in Rotterdam this week.
Murray is attempting to be the first to have a successful singles comeback from the hip resurfacing surgery he had a couple of years ago.
"I still believe I can compete with the best players," he insisted in a tournament interview before his first round. "If not, I probably wouldn't be motivated to do the training and the traveling.
"But I still think I can."
But some the demands of a playing career are now even harder for the father of three, as he found out when setting off on the road this time around.
"I'd been at home for about three, four months. I spent a lot of time with my children," he said. "And when I was packing my bag, my middle daughter was helping me pack my bag. And she said, 'Oh, Daddy, Teddy,' who's my son, 'he doesn't want you to go.' But obviously he can't speak. And she said, 'Daddy, I don't want you to.' And she started crying.
"I felt bad, because I was about to leave her."
But when he is playing, the three-time Grand Slam champ now also feels more pressure to perform.
Murray won the 250 event at Antwerp in 2019, the first title of his comeback, but then experienced some upper leg injuries which limited his schedule. In the first round of Rotterdam, he defeated fellow wild card and local favorite Robin Haase, coming back from 3-0 down in the third. He then explained why the win was psychologically important.
"I’m getting told to retire, that I should stop playing, that I’m finished and got nothing left or whatever... I feel like I’m playing for my career now, each time I step on the court, which is a motivation in some ways. But it also adds a bit of extra stress," he told press.
"And on top of that, I’m playing with my metal hip, which is hard."
Murray could play Andrey Rublev in the second round.