Andy Murray has withdrawn from this year’s Australian Open, with the hip injury that forced him out of the Brisbane International failing to recover in time for him to suit up in Melbourne.
Instead, the Scotsman will return home to try and find a solution to an ongoing injury that now threatens his career.
In a statement, the former world number one and three-time grand slam winner confirmed he would fly back to the UK instead of hoping for a miracle in Melbourne.
“Sadly I won’t be playing in Melbourne this year, as I am not yet ready to compete,” Murray said. “I’ll be flying home shortly to assess all the options but I appreciate all the messages of support and I hope to be back playing soon.”
The 30-year-old was due to play in Brisbane during the week in what would have been his long-awaited return to the ATP Tour. But after appearing to be bullish about his condition, a series of hit-outs against top players on the practice courts was an unwelcome dose of reality.
Surgery now appears to be an option for Murray, who hasn’t expanded on the exact nature of the injury. But he has said going under the knife would be a calculated risk, with a surgical solution a calculated gamble given the variable outcomes.
In a heartfelt social media post earlier in the week, Murray reflected on his predicament and the ongoing frustration of trying to rehabilitate an injury that could rob him of his career years before schedule.
“I’ve obviously been going through a really difficult period with my hip for a long time and have sought council from a number of hip specialists,” Murray said on Instagram.
“Having been recommended to treat my hip conservatively since the US Open I have done everything asked of me from a rehab perspective and worked extremely hard to try get back on the court competing.
“Having played practice sets here in Brisbane with some top players unfortunately this hasn’t worked yet to get me to the level I would like so I have to reassess my options.
“Obviously continuing rehab is one option and giving my hip more time to recover. Surgery is also an option but the chances of a successful outcome are not as high as I would like which has made this my secondary option and my hope has been to avoid that.
“However this is something I may have to consider but let’s hope not.”
While Murray has been wary of surgery, he need only look to Lleyton Hewitt as proof it can have a positive outcome. The Australian had surgery on both hips for chronic labral (cartilage) injuries and rebounded from both to return to the court.
His first operation was in 2008 (left) which sidelined him for four months, with his right hip being done in 2010, resulting in a three-month rehab.
Murray was at long odds to play in Melbourne unless he fired in Brisbane, leaving Roger Federer as the clear favourite for the event as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic also battle injury concerns.