John McEnroe has backed Andy Murray to return to the world’s top five but feels Wimbledon may come too soon for him to make an impact.
The two-time champion at the All England Club said on Friday he would “most likely” compete in the tournament only two weeks after returning from nearly a year out with hip problems.
Murray lost narrowly to Nick Kyrgios in his comeback match at Queen’s Club and then scored his first win at Eastbourne, beating Stan Wawrinka, before coming off second best in an all-British clash against Kyle Edmund.
ESPN analyst McEnroe said: “It appears that he’s moving pretty well. I’ve only seen a little bit of him. He’s had tough draws both events he’s played. Playing Kyrgios first round isn’t exactly a cakewalk.
“Then he played Stan to play Edmund, which is weird, because he’s playing the new (British) number one, even though we really know that Andy is the number one.
“I don’t know if he’s capable, or if it’s possible, to play seven best-of-five-set matches. He’s by no means got an easy draw either. It would be hard to envision a guy, with that type of draw, go really deep into an event.
“As far as the future, if he’s healthy, his hip is OK, I would expect to see him back in the top five within a period of time. He’s basically lost his complete ranking more or less, so he’d have to work his way back. I would suspect we would certainly see him back in the mix if he’s healthy.”
Evert said: “I think right now you see a smile on his face. It’s just great to see him back – his game, his personality. He’s healthy.
“Very often, when a player is forced to leave the game for injuries, you look at past history. Ninety per cent of the players have come back better than ever, stronger than ever, more eager than ever, more inspired than ever, because they really feel like they finally appreciate what they didn’t have.
While Murray has been battling to get back on court, Edmund has seized the mantle of British number one, following up his run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open by breaking into the top 20.
McEnroe, though, thinks expecting Edmund to emulate the success of Murray by winning slam titles is a step too far.
He said: “I think Kyle has made some excellent progress. I was really impressed with what I saw (in Australia). I don’t see a guy winning majors, I see a guy that can do a lot of damage to a lot of people. I see an extreme professional.
“If I had to guess (where he can get to), maybe in the 10 to 20 range, perhaps better, if he can continue to work on a couple things. A lot of things have improved, his backhand, his serve is better. He’s got the fitness that he didn’t have before.
“He’s taken advantage of some opportunities. He’s making some good progress and I hope he keeps it up.”