(Reuters) - Andy Murray is still feeling the effects of a hip injury that forced a premature end to his 2018 activity, but the Briton hopes the pain will ease as he plays more matches in the lead-up to next month's Australian Open.
The former world number one returned to the ATP tour in June after having hip surgery at the start of the year but ended his season in September to concentrate on being in the best possible shape for 2019.
"I still have some pain in my hip but I need to play matches and see how it feels when I am able to play three, four, five matches in a row and take it from there," Murray told reporters ahead of next week's Brisbane International.
"Last year when I came here it was tough, I was struggling quite a lot. It definitely feels a bit better than it did coming here last year. I've always loved playing here."
Murray, whose world ranking has dropped to 256, said that he was in a "better place" than he was a few months ago when he missed Wimbledon and stumbled to a second-round defeat at the U.S. Open.
He ended his 2018 season after losing in the quarter-finals of the Shenzhen Open and Murray said he hoped to return to his best in the next few weeks in Australia.
"I would just like to get through the tournaments and feel like I am able to compete and not be restricted by my hip," Murray, who will be unseeded in Brisbane, added.
The Australian Open will be held in Melbourne from Jan. 14-27.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)