|2018 Nature Valley International on the BBC|
|Venue: Devonshire Park, Eastbourne Dates: 24-30 June|
|Coverage: Watch the women’s tournament live on BBC Two, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, Connected TVs, the BBC Sport website and app and follow the men’s on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and the BBC Sport website.|
Andy Murray continued his competitive return to action with an impressive win over fellow three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka at Eastbourne on Monday, setting up a second-round meeting with his successor as British number one, Kyle Edmund.
In his regular BBC Sport column, the 31-year-old Scot talks about playing Edmund, his form in the early stages of his comeback, how the swimming pool is helping his recovery, and former coach Amelie Mauresmo’s appointment as France’s Davis Cup captain.
I am a little bit surprised at how well I’ve played so early in my comeback because I don’t feel like I’ve practised loads – not like I would have done in the past in the build-up to events.
The positive to that is I don’t necessarily have to practise for three hours a day before events like I would have done in the past – feeling like that is what I had to do to perform well.
Maybe that’s not the case now. Maybe I can rest my body a little more.
The movement is the most important thing I need to work on because all the guys who are playing at the top of the game can hit the ball extremely well.
In my first match back against Nick Kyrgios at Queen’s I was a little bit apprehensive with my movement, but the second match against Stan was a little better.
But I still think that can improve.
‘Comeback left me stiff and sore’
I wasn’t feeling great in the 24 hours after the match against Nick. I had soreness in the hip and stiffness in the lower back and the glutes.
On the grass, the ball stays lower so you’re bending down to a lot of balls, meaning soreness and stiffness would normally be the case after the first match on the surface, even if I’d been playing regularly.
But it was multiplied because it was my first match in such a long time.
My shoulder was also a little bit sore because it was the first time I’d served for a long time too.
It was just general body soreness, but after 48 hours I felt fine.
The day after a match last year I would have hit the following day, but after the match against Nick I was in the swimming pool, had a bit of massage, then spent an hour and a half with my physio.
I’ve been doing more in the pool recently and been doing that before matches too, getting in the pool to loosen up a little bit. That is something new that I haven’t done in the past.
I do aqua-jogging, stretching, different movements – leg swings and hip swings, no loading or impacting, trying to get the body moving again.
‘Kyle improving all the time’
In terms of playing Kyle on Wednesday, he’s a brilliant player – that’s the challenge, not because he’s a fellow Brit.
I played Tim Henman a few times when I was coming up, and Kyle a couple of times, but it is more the challenge of playing a really good player rather than someone who I know pretty well.
In the past 12-18 months Kyle has done fantastic things and is improving all the time.
I think he is playing better grass-court tennis than he had done in the past so it will be tough.
The atmosphere will probably be different because the crowd won’t necessarily want one particular player to win, they want to see a good match and will support both players.
‘Women working with male players should be normal’
I think it is good that Amelie Mauresmo has been appointed as captain of France’s Davis Cup team.
Certainly it was a big story when I was working with Amelie but ultimately you hope that female coaches working with male players is seen as normal.
I’m still being asked about it because it hasn’t quite got to that stage. There is a long way to go.
But there is absolutely no reason why someone of Amelie’s stature and ability, and what she has achieved, cannot help male players. She certainly helped me with lots of things.
I’m sure it will happen more in the future – she will do a good job.
Amelie has got a nice way about her, communicates well and that supports that team environment. Obviously tennis is largely an individual sport but when you come together for the Davis Cup and Fed Cup the captain has to keep everybody happy.
That is not always easy but I think she has the skills to do a good job in that respect.
I know she loved playing the Fed Cup herself so she will be passionate about competing for her country.
Andy Murray was talking to BBC Sport’s Jonathan Jurejko.