TENNIS legend John McEnroe has backed Andy Murray to win Wimbledon for a third time, saying: he is a real contender on grass.
Muzza, 35, plans to play singles at Wimbledon for just the second time since career-saving hip surgery in January 2019.
The former world No1 is struggling with an abdominal injury and might not walk through the famous green gates next Monday in top shape.
the top two seeds for the men’s draw will be three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal, who is chasing the calendar Slam.
Yet the Scot – who was King of Wimbledon in 2013 and 2016 – has been told he should consider himself among the favorites due to his experience and past record.
McEnroe said: “If he’s fit, I believe Andy is one of the contenders.
“I actually believe he’d be one of a handful of guys that could win it.
“I don’t know if he is fully fit. Maybe he doesn’t even know that.
“But he’s got loads of experience. He knows how to play better than almost anyone on that surface.
“He’s prepared himself well, I believe, for that very moment.
“If he’s looking at Rafa and Novak, he’s got to be thinking he’s going to have one last hurrah.
“I think that’s entirely conceivable. What I don’t know is how close to 100 per cent he is.
“Andy has the experience. If he is physically fit, you can’t count him out against anyone.
“There’s not a lot of people that I would bet on against Murray, honestly.
“If he’s at the level, even at 90 per cent of what he was, I think he’d beat all but like four to six people.
“If he’s 100 per cent, and let’s just say he’s close to that, he could do anything.
“It’s sort of exciting because it puts him back in the mix, which I think he deserves.”
Since an extended training block in Miami in March, Murray has been working with Czech-born American coach Ivan Lendl.
It is their third time working together and old stony-faced, who is already in London, was in the box when Murray won those two famous singles championships.
McEnroe63, had some mighty tussles with Lendl, 62, in their playing days, beating him to win the 1984 US Open in New York but then losing to his rival in the finals of the 1984 French Open and 1985 US Open.
The three-time Wimbledon winner said: “I saw Ivan recently. I mean I don’t think he’d do it if he didn’t believe Andy could win one.
I just don’t see how Andy’s movement is even possible with a metal hip
“I honestly don’t believe he would be part of this. So I think that sends some type of message as well. And I’m hopeful that he can do it. That would be a hell of a story.”
Yet the very fact he is playing at all, given that he has a metal hit implant, is something not lost on the tennis community.
McEnroe, who will be once again part of the BBC commentary team for Wimbledonadded: “I think some tennis fans forget Andy has been in 11 finals and won three of them.
“He was number one in the world at one point, you know a ranking ahead of these other legends.
“I know it had to be tough for him in a lot of ways to watch these guys continue to amass records where he basically couldn’t play at all.
“I’m not a doctor. But I’m amazed that he’s moving as well as he is.
“If you’ve got a metal hip, that would tell me that you wouldn’t move as well, that you would be stiffer, that you couldn’t react as quickly.
“I just don’t see how it’s even possible. But I noticed, mostly this year, a definite improvement, almost to where it was close to what I remember seeing from him.”
- JJohn McEnroe is part of the BBC’s Wimbledon 2022 line-up. Catch all the action across BBC TV, radio and online from Monday June 27.