Andy Murray revealed on Sunday how constant pain was taking over his life before his back surgery in September, just months after winning Wimbledon. (Click here for latest on Australian Open)
The world number four was out for four months after the operation on a disc problem in his lower back, and only made his comeback at the Qatar Open earlier this month. (Also read: I can knock off Rafa, Djoko, says Federer)
Murray said his back felt now fully recovered, but added that the long lay-off meant the rest of his body was not yet at the level he would like. "My back's fine, and I have confidence in it for the first time in a long time," the 26-year-old wrote in a column for the Sunday Age newspaper in Melbourne. (Related: Azarenka shrugs offs Serena favourite tag)
"But the rest of my body needs to get used to playing matches again, and it's hard to know how long that will take."
Murray underwent surgery in September and spent the next 16 days doing nothing, not even walking. "I basically spent all day, every day in bed. I spent a lot of time playing Grand Theft Auto on the PlayStation, and I had a doctor come round a couple of times to look at the wound and the scar," he said. (Related: Pat Rafter comes out of retirement to play doubles)
The recovery has been gradual, but the surgery was worth it, he said. "I had been dealing with the injury for a long time, 18 months at least. It was bad this time last year, then it got really bad playing on the clay courts," Murray said.
"That was the worst it ever was. I took some time off before playing on the grass courts and that helped, but when I went back to play on the hard courts it got worse again."
He said the uncertainty of not knowing how his back would hold up, coupled with the pain, made the decision to go under the knife that much easier. "That's another thing that made the surgery easier to deal with, because my back was hurting all day, every day. Some days I would wake up feeling horrible, and it would just get worse from there," he said.
"I wasn't able to do any of the things I like to do away from the courts, so it was taking over my life, and I knew I needed to do something about it."
Another step on the road to recovery comes at Melbourne Park, where he has lost three times in the final, including last year to Novak Djokovic.
The Scot is not getting his hopes up, particularly with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in his side of the draw. "I haven't put any thought into how I might go, and I need to be careful about my expectations. But having said that, who knows?"