Sporting Life · Columnist
An emotional Andy Murray announced he is planning to retire after Wimbledon but that next week’s Australian Open could be the final tournament of his career.
The former world number one has battled to recover from a chronic hip condition for more than 18 months, undergoing surgery in Melbourne a year ago, but was forced to admit in a tearful press conference that his efforts have not been enough.
Murray was on the verge of tears as he entered the press room and, asked how his hip was feeling, managed to say “not great” before being overcome by his emotions and having to leave the room.
He returned after several minutes to deliver his devastating news, saying: “Obviously I’ve been struggling for a long time. I’ve been in a lot of pain for about 20 months now.
“I’ve pretty much done everything that I could to try and get my hip feeling better and it hasn’t helped loads. I’m in a better place than I was six months ago but still in a lot of pain. It’s been tough.”
Murray will contest his first-round match against Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut on Monday but that may prove to be the final match of his illustrious career.
The 31-year-old said: “I’m going to play. I can still play to a level. Not a level that I’m happy playing at. But it’s not just that. The pain is too much really and I don’t want to continue playing that way.
“During my training block (in Miami last month) I spoke to my team and told them I can’t keep doing this. I needed to have an end point because I was sort of playing with no idea when the pain was going to stop.
“I said to my team, look I think I can get through this until Wimbledon. That’s where I’d like to stop playing. But I’m also not certain I’m able to do that.”
After another pause while Murray sat with his head on the desk, he was asked whether this might be his last tournament.
“Yes I think there’s a chance of that for sure because I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months,” he said.
“I have an option to have another operation, which is a little bit more severe than what I’ve had before in having my hip resurfaced, which will allow me to have a better quality of life and be out of pain.
“That’s something I’m seriously considering right now. Some athletes have had that and gone back to competing but there’s obviously no guarantees with that and the reason for having an operation like that is not to return to professional sport, it’s just for a better quality of life.”
Andy Murray’s greatest matches
2008, Wimbledon, fourth round – beat Richard Gasquet 5-7 3-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 6-4
The match that established Murray’s reputation for never giving up. The 21-year-old was two sets and a break down before recovering to reach the quarter-finals of a grand slam for the first time. The backhand down the line during the third-set tie-break that left him almost in the crowd is arguably his most memorable shot.
2011, Japan Open, final – beat Rafael Nadal 3-6 6-2 6-0
Having lost to Nadal in three successive grand slam semi-finals, Murray produced one of his best ATP Tour performances, coming from a set down to defeat the great Spaniard with a fine display of attacking tennis.
2012, Olympic Games, gold medal match – beat Roger Federer 6-2 6-1 6-4
Four weeks after his heartbreaking Wimbledon final loss to Federer, Murray played arguably the greatest match of his career to claim his first global title. Admittedly he was facing a tired Federer but this was complete domination in front of a raucous and disbelieving Centre Court crowd.
2012, US Open, final – beat Novak Djokovic 7-6 (12-10) 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2
In his fifth final, Murray finally won a grand slam title in fittingly dramatic fashion. It looked like he might have blown his chance when Djokovic fought back from two sets down to level but the Scot was not to be denied.
2013, Australian Open, semi-final – beat Federer 6-4 6-7 (5/7) 6-3 6-7 (2/7) 6-2
Going for a second successive slam title, Murray secured his only slam victory over Federer. Although it took five sets, the Swiss was hanging on to Murray with his fingernails for most of the match and was helpless in the fifth set.
2013, Wimbledon, final – beat Djokovic 6-4 7-5 6-4
The most important match of Murray’s career was a fitting way for the Scot to end Fred Perry’s 77-year reign as the last home men’s singles winner. Superb throughout, the final game was a match in itself before Murray at last got his hands on the golden trophy.
2015, Davis Cup, final – beat David Goffin 6-3 7-5 6-3
Of all Murray’s many wonderful achievements, winning the Davis Cup for Great Britain virtually single-handed in 2015 might well be the best of them. It was fitting he should win the final point against Belgium in Ghent, sealed with a stunning lob.
2016, French Open, semi-final – beat Stan Wawrinka 6-4 6-2 4-6 6-2
The match that showed Murray had conquered clay as he knocked out the defending champion to reach his only final at Roland Garros.
2016, Wimbledon, final – beat Milos Raonic 6-4 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-2)
For the first time in his 11 slam finals, Murray found someone other than Federer or Djokovic on the other side of the net. From the start, he stamped his authority on first-time finalist Raonic and did not let up.
2016, Olympic Games, gold medal match – beat Juan Martin del Potro 7-5 4-6 6-2 7-5
This gruelling, emotional victory in Rio gave Murray something none of his illustrious rivals have managed as he became the first tennis player to successfully defend an Olympic singles title.
Andy Murray’s career by numbers
1 – Murray became the first British singles player ever to officially be ranked world number one on November 7, 2016.
41 – The number of weeks the Scot spent on top of the rankings.
3 – Grand slam titles
11 – Grand slam finals
45 – Career singles titles
2 – Doubles titles, both with brother Jamie
9 – Singles titles in 2016, including five in a row to end the season as world number one
2 – Olympic singles gold medals
11 – Murray won all 11 rubbers he contested to drive Great Britain to Davis Cup glory in 2015, an unprecedented feat
663 – Tour-level matches won
61,055,135 – Career prize money, in US dollars
3 – Only person to be named BBC Sports Personality of the Year three times
5,573 – Aces served
29 – Combined wins against Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic