Andy Murray can still return to professional tennis even if he has another hip operation, says American doubles legend Bob Bryan.
Bryan, 40, had a hip resurfacing procedure last summer and is back playing at the Australian Open.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Murray, 31, has said he might have to quit if he has the same surgery.
“I personally think he can can come back,” said Bryan, who has been in regular contact with Murray.
“There’s so much wear and tear in tennis, but I think he could do it.”
Mum Judy said Andy was still considering his options but that the quality of life with two young children would be a crucial factor in his decision, while Jamie said he wanted his younger brother to get back to a “regular, pain-free life”.
“He must enjoy life in the long term but you just get the sense that there’s something else in him, that he’s not quite ready to quit yet,” said Judy.
Bryan, a 23-time Grand Slam doubles champion, played alongside brother Mike at the Australian Open on Wednesday, little over five months since undergoing his operation.
He says he feels “zero pain” now, but acknowledges playing singles is “more intense” than doubles and that no-one has ever successfully returned to the game long-term after the operation.
Murray is back home in Britain after a gutsy five-set defeat by Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut and says he will “probably” make a decision next week on whether to go for surgery.
The Scot has spoken about wanting to play at this year’s Wimbledon but would miss the championships if he has the operation.
“I think he’s going to have the surgery,” said Bryan.
“He’s been watching me like a hawk, asking me how I’m feeling after matches, after practices, where I’m at.
“He’s just trying to gauge how long it would take him, if this procedure is an option.”
‘I feel great – but singles is a different monster’
Despite offering a positive take on Murray’s situation, Bryan recognises the Scot’s situation is completely different.
“I feel great, quality of life is great, practises are going well,” he said.
“Maybe I’m not 100% yet, but I’m only five months since surgery. The doctors said it will be more like seven or eight months until you feel perfect.
“Until I feel that, I can’t give you the guarantee, but I think he’s to the point where this is probably his last option.
“I never once told him this is the way to go because singles is a different monster.
“Those guys are sliding around, killing themselves for four hours. Who knows if this joint would hold up.
“Will you have the explosiveness to be quick on the singles court? If you don’t have that, you’ll be exposed.
“But I would love to see him do it just for quality of life. You can sleep, walk, be with your kids, play.”
‘The only guy to get professional athletes back’
Bryan has recommended his surgeon Dr Edwin Su, who is based in New York and has successfully performed the procedure on a number of American athletes.
Bryan says Murray has already spoken to the doctor.
“He’s the only guy that’s got professional athletes back to their profession,” Bryan said.
“He’s done a baseball guy, an NBA guy, and a hockey player. No tennis player until me has come back yet.”
‘Hard to see Andy in pain’ – mum Judy
Mum Judy said it had been tough watching her youngest son struggle with injury.
“The hard thing, for all of us around him, is to have seen him in pain on a daily basis, doing regular things,” she told BBC Radio 5 live’s Tennis Breakfast.
“It’s not even the playing of the sport – it’s simple things, like tying his shoelace, things we take for granted.
“It’s a long time to struggle with pain and I think, certainly within the family, we’d all be happy to see him without the pain and enjoy life and chase after the kids – and the dog!”
Jamie, who starts his Australian Open doubles campaign on Thursday, praised his younger brother’s spirited performance in his emotional five-set defeat by Bautista Agut.
“I knew how difficult it was for him because of the pain he’s in and also the frustration of not being able to play to the level that he’s used to or expects of himself,” said the 32-year-old.
“If it does happen to be the last time he plays here, it’s a great way for him to go out and show everyone what a fighter he is.
“I just hope that, whatever happens, he can get back to just regular life, pain-free, and be able to enjoy himself and not be in constant pain.
“If he’s able to come back and play tennis, if that’s what he wants to do, then I’m sure he’ll give it everything he can.
“But I know obviously, surgeries, so many other things he has tried to do in order to get back and get feeling good.
“I can’t imagine how much of a toll that would take on you mentally probably more than anything. So it has been a long road for him and I think he just needed an end result one way or another.”