RETURN FROM INJURY: John Millman will restart his career on Europe's clay courts this month.
RETURN FROM INJURY: John Millman will restart his career on Europe's clay courts this month. WU HONG

Millman hopes to deliver on European clay

IT WILL come almost five months later than he had planned, but John Millman will finally start his 2017 tennis season in Italy this month.

He will fly out of Brisbane Thursday for two clay court tournaments, including the French Open, confident he will be able to put injury concerns behind him.

The 27-year-old Queenslander had surgery in late February to repair the conjoint tendon in his stomach wall, six weeks after he had to concede defeat in his game efforts to play the Australian circuit.

Millman has been hitting seriously on the Queensland Tennis Centre's clay courts for the past fortnight in preparation for the Mestre Challenger in Italy, which starts on May 22, before the French Open starts on May 28.

"The French Open on clay is a testing one on the body and I've taken time to make sure everything should hold up,'' said Millman, who was the third-ranked Australian man in late 2016.

"It looks like everything has paid off and the rehab went really well.

"It's a very challenging task to play a Grand Slam so soon after having seven months off the tour. Hopefully I can show a bit of fight and go all right.''

Under ATP rules to safeguard the interests of players with serious injuries, Millman, ranked No. 127 because of his inactivity, can use an injury protected ranking of No. 81 to get into a maximum of nine tournaments over the next nine months.

Three will be used to make the main draws at the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

"I'll probably save the others for in and around the US Open and in Asia,'' said Millman, who has entered Challenger events on grass next month and perhaps the qualifying for one ATP tournament before Wimbledon.

He will practise for a few days in Stuttgart, Germany, under the supervision of his new Irish coach Louk Sorensen before they travel to Mestre and Paris.

Millman said he would work with his previous Brisbane coach, Mark Draper, on the grass leading up to Wimbledon, where he made a third-round exit last year on centre court at the hands of Scotland's Andy Murray.



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