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Winter of discontent lies in wait for Andy Murray as he bids to address physical issues

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

A year that began with Andy Murray languishing at 134th in the world has seen him climb inside the top 50.

On court, there have been the glimmers of promise but, as his season ended in Paris this week, the 35-year-old cut a disconsolate figure.

It was not so much disappointment at being able to emulate his two most recent performances in the French capital at the Paris Masters – the title win in 2016 and the runners-up spot the year previously. Instead, it was about his crumbling body, and for once not the hip that was twice operated on in order to return to the game.

He was left to castigate himself for a lack of physicality against a player two years older than him in Gilles Simon. This was a match he was dominating before he found himself huffing and puffing as well as cramping to a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 defeat.

Having worked so hard to get back up to 48th globally and only recently reuniting with Ivan Lendl, the Briton is unlikely to pack up and call it quits.

But he now faces a potential winter of discontent. In the past, his modus operandi was to beast himself in the November/December sunshine in Miami in order to get him to peak physical fitness for the start of the season.

Now, he has to balance getting his fitness levels back up to where they need to be at the same time as not putting too much pressure on the hip.

“There were a lot of long points and everything but having that happen after a set and a half on an indoor court where it’s not particularly hot is not really acceptable,” Murray said at the manner of his cramping during his season exit.

“For the bulk of my career, I would have played close to 80 matches a year. This year it would have been around 40 so the work I do on the tennis court and on the practice court needs to be of a high-enough intensity to make up for that. If I go a three-week period where I’m not playing many matches, I’ll then probably need to do more on-court work as well.

“I need to be a bit more careful with some of the training that I do but I can certainly do more and push myself harder than I have done recently.”