MELBOURNE: Andy Murray is still hoping to make it to one more Wimbledon tournament before his problematic hip forces him into retirement. For now, he’s only committing to the Australian Open.
In an emotional news conference on Friday, when a tearful Murray had to leave the room shortly after his first attempt to get it started, and needed to pause several times to compose himself once it had resumed, he confirmed he’d play his first-round match at the Australian Open next week but wasn’t sure how much longer he could continue beyond that.
The 31-year-old Murray said he practiced in the off-season with the main goal of making one last run at Wimbledon, where he ended the 77-year drought for British men with his title in 2013, but now felt Melbourne Park might end up his swansong.
“Wimbledon is where I would like to stop playing, but I am not certain I am able to do that,” the 31-year-old Briton, now ranked 230th in the world, said. “I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months. The pain is too much, really, and I don't want to continue playing that way. The pain is not allowing me to enjoy competing or training or any of the stuff I love about tennis.”
Five-times a runner up at Melbourne Park, Murray had surgery on the joint a year ago, having played with pain for a number of years. He came back last June but was forced to cut his 2018 season short.
While still struggling during a pre-season camp in December, Murray said he had told his team that he felt he could not go on for much longer.
“Just playing with no idea when the pain was going to stop, and I felt like making that decision,” he said. “I said to my team, Look, I think I can kind of get through this until Wimbledon.’ That was where I’d like to stop — stop playing. But I’m also not certain I’m able to do that.”
Twice Wimbledon winner Murray, Britain’s first men’s champion since Fred Perry in 1936, left the door to an eventual comeback slightly ajar, saying he was mulling another round of major hip surgery.
He said he had been in touch with American doubles champion Bob Bryan, who returned to the court at the recent Brisbane International after having the surgery.
The twice Olympic champion added, though, that the operation would be more aimed at improving quality of life than prolonging his career.
“I have an option to have another operation which is a little bit more kind of severe than what I’ve had before, having my hip resurfaced which would allow me to have a better quality of life,” he said.
“That’s something I’m seriously considering right now. Bob Bryan had this operation post-Wimbledon last year and is obviously playing. But obviously there’s a difference between singles and doubles in terms of the physicality and movement and stuff. Certainly, no guarantees there.”
Murray said basic things in everyday life, like putting on socks and shoes, were causing him severe pain and he had grown weary of talking about his hip in every conversation.
Murray, who visibly struggled in a 6-1, 4-1 practice match defeat to top seed Novak Djokovic at Melbourne Park on Thursday, has been drawn to play 22nd seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round on Monday.
Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2019