Andy Murray could make his return from hip surgery at one of two new indoor events in Britain later this spring.
Murray said after his operation that he hoped to return “around the grass court season, or maybe slightly before”.
The Scot, 30, is unlikely to want to return on physically demanding clay, which precedes the grass court season, and his options elsewhere are limited.
But the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has announced two new indoor hard court events in Glasgow and Loughborough.
Both will be staged on the ATP Challenger Tour, the level below the ATP World Tour, with a prize fund of $ 100,000 (£72,000)
The first will take place at the Scotstoun Tennis Centre in Glasgow between 28 April and 6 May. The second is scheduled for Loughborough University’s Tennis Centre from 19-27 May.
The LTA says the tournaments will provide “quality playing opportunities for British players” in the run up to Wimbledon, but it seems very unlikely they would have been established at short notice had it not been for Murray’s impending return. The LTA has not yet committed to staging the tournaments in future years.
Murray’s management team and the LTA are understood to have been involved in discussions about the creation of these events, even though there can be no guarantee the former world number one will be fit for either. The double Wimbledon champion has said consistently he will not come back until absolutely ready.
He has not played a competitive match since Wimbledon last year and pulled out of this season’s Australian Open with injury before undergoing surgery on 8 January.
He is due to return to the practice court in the next couple of weeks and is planning to head overseas, to an as yet undecided destination, for some warm weather training in April.
A return to competitive tennis on home soil in Glasgow at the end of April would represent a swift recovery from his surgery, but should not yet be ruled out.
Were Murray to return in Loughborough three weeks later, then he would only have one more week to wait for the start of the grass court season, in south-west London.
The Surbiton Trophy is another event on the Challenger Tour – a level Murray has not played at since October 2005.