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Andy Murray signals career resumption rather than retirement

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Andy Murray will indeed play competitive tennis again. Murray intends to play doubles at June’s Queen’s Club Championships, the Wimbledon tune-up tournament confirmed Monday.

“I’m not yet ready to return to the singles court, but I’ve been pain-free for a few months now,” Murray said in a statement. “I’ve made good progress in training and on the practice court, and this is the next step for me as I try to return to the tour.”

It has been reported that Murray’s doubles partner will be Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.

Before the Australian Open in January, where he lost in the first round, Murray said that he planned to retire at some point in 2019 due to hip problems — and that it was possible that Grand Slam tournament might be the final event of his career.

In early March, Murray said he was pain-free after hip surgery but likely wouldn’t play at Wimbledon. Murray told the BBC then that he wanted to continue playing, but the surgeons “couldn’t give me any guarantees.”

The three-time Grand Slam champion said, “I don’t feel any pressure to come back. If it allows me to play that’s brilliant.”

Murray had an operation to repair his damaged right hip with a metal implant. The 31-year-old said he was without pain for the first time in 18 months but could not do “any high-impact movement.” Murray was seen hitting a serve on a grass court in a video on his Instagram on Saturday.

Murray, who has two daughters, said, “having the surgery was to improve all the day-to-day things and my quality of life.”

Queen’s starts two weeks before the start of Wimbledon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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World Cup Alpine season opener gets green light

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After checking the snow on the Rettenbach glacier in Soelden, Austria, FIS officials announced Thursday that the traditional World Cup season opener is set to go ahead as planned Oct. 26-27 with men’s and women’s giant slalom races.

Current conditions at Soelden show a solid 30 inches of snow at the summit. The race finishes at an altitude of 2,670 meters (8,760 feet), far above the currently snowless village.

The first races of the season are never guaranteed to have enough snow, though last year’s men’s race at Soelden had the opposite problem, being canceled when a storm blew through with heavy snowfall and high winds. 

France’s Tessa Worley won the women’s race last year ahead of Italy’s Frederica Brignone and U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who would go on to dominate the rest of the World Cup season.

The Soelden weekend is followed by three dormant weeks until the season resumes Nov. 23-24 in Levi, Finland. The World Cup circuits then switch to North America. The men will run speed events Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Lake Louise, Alberta, then head to Beaver Creek, Colo., for more speed events and a giant slalom Dec. 6-8. The women run slalom and giant slalom Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Killington, Vt., and head to Lake Louise the next weekend.

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Olympic marathon and race walk move from Tokyo to Sapporo draws some pushback

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In the wake of a dropout-plagued set of world championship endurance races in Qatar, moving the 2020 Olympic marathons and race walks from Tokyo to the cooler venue of Sapporo is a quick fix for one problem, pending the potential for untimely heat waves.

But the move has drawn some opposition for a variety of reasons.

First, many organizers and politicians appear to have been caught by surprise. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, was “taken aback” and Sapporo’s mayor, Katsuhiro Akimoto, learned about the move from the media, Kyodo News reported. Koike even sarcastically suggested that the races could move all the way northward to islands disputed by Russia and Japan.

South African sports scientist Ross Tucker suggested that running in heat and humidity poses an interesting challenge for athletes, some of whom may be able to catch up with faster runners by preparing for the conditions.

British marathoner Mara Yamauchi made a similar point, saying the move was unfair to those who already were preparing for the heat, humidity and other conditions.

Belgian marathoner Koen Naert said he will make the best of the change but complained that some of his preparation and every runner’s logistical planning would no longer apply.

The angriest athlete may be Canadian walker Evan Dunfee, who placed fourth in the 2016 Olympic 50km race and nearly claimed bronze as a Canadian appeal was upheld but then rejected. He says runners and walkers can beat the conditions if they prepare, which many athletes did not do for the world championships in Qatar.

“So why do we cater to the ill prepared?” Dunfee asked on Twitter.

The move also takes athletes out of the main Olympic city and takes away the traditional, tough less frequent in modern years, finish in the Olympic stadium.

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