LONDON: Andy Murray's one-time coach Alex Corretja believes the former world number one should focus on arriving at Wimbledon in peak condition following his latest injury setback.
The 32-year-old Briton withdrew from this month's Australian Open with a pelvic injury sustained playing at the Davis Cup Finals in November, meaning he will have missed eight of the last 10 Grand Slam tournaments.
Murray has made a remarkable recovery from having hip resurfacing surgery last January, however, winning the Antwerp title in only his seventh tournament since returning to action by beating Stan Wawrinka in September.
Corretja thinks Murray has made a sensible decision to skip the Australian Open, saying he needs to build his year around a specific target, which logically would be Wimbledon where he won the title in 2013 and 2016.
"He needs to prepare his season focussing on a goal, a big goal," Spaniard Corretja, who worked on and off with Murray from 2008-11, told Reuters.
"That might be Wimbledon or it could be the Olympics. But you can't just go through the season thinking you are going to win a few matches here and there, he needs to be ready.
"I think in five or six months time he will have had enough time to be ready and that's when Wimbledon comes. That will be the period I believe he will need to be in his best shape."
The predicament for Murray will be playing enough matches and avoiding injuries.
"If he's healthy he will have the chance to play at the highest level again but it will be very difficult for him because the injury he had was complicated and he has been giving it 100 percent for 10 or 15 years already on the Tour," said former world number two Corretja, who will be working as an analyst for broadcaster Eurosport at the Australian Open.
"When you are away for such a long time and you've not got the matches in the bank, you get other injuries, not related to the real injury.
"But he is among the special players like Roger (Federer), Rafa (Nadal) and Novak (Djokovic) and always give them the benefit of the doubt. In the case of Andy it would take him a while to compete in best of five over two weeks.
"This time last year he didn't know if he could continue. He will need more matches. He will need to do well in Indian Wells and Miami, play a good claycourt season, then maybe by Wimbledon he might have his top form again."
Three-time Grand Slam champion Murray is expected to start his season in Montpellier next month.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)