ANDY MURRAY has announced he is planning to retire after Wimbledon but next week’s Australian Open could be his final tournament because of injury.
The two-time Wimbledon champion has been struggling with a chronic hip problem for more than 18 months after undergoing surgery in Australia a year ago.
And speaking at a press conference ahead of his Australian Open round 1 match with Roberto Bautista-Agut, an emotional Murray admitted his hip was 'not great'.
Overcome with emotion, the Scot was forced to leave the room for several minutes in order to compose himself. He returned several minutes later to confirm the sad news.
"Obviously I’ve been struggling for a long time. I’ve been in a lot of pain for about 20 months now," he said.
"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."
The 31-year-old nevertheless insisted he would give his match with Bautista-Agut his all.
"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."
Asked whether the Australian Open might be his last tournament, Murray confirmed most fans’ worst fears.
"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.
An emotional Andy Murray had to walk off before coming back to announce he's planning to retire because of his hip injury. pic.twitter.com/AMWP4UpkV9
— ESPN (@espn) January 11, 2019
"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."
Murray had been playing through the pain for several years before the injury became a serious problem in the 2017 French Open semi-finals.
Players old and new have taken to Twitter to react to the news.
Tennis will come to an end for us all but the friendships will last a lifetime. What you’ve done for the sport will live on forever. I’m hoping for a strong and healthy finish for you, my friend! @andy_murray pic.twitter.com/Bcs0cdllJp
— Grigor Dimitrov (@GrigorDimitrov) January 11, 2019
So sad for @andy_murray . Hands down one of the best guys on tour. So much respect for him as an all around athlete and person. Hope his body can recover. If not, he will be missed by all. 😔
— Vasek Pospisil (@VasekPospisil) January 11, 2019
.@andy_murray You are a champion on and off the court. So sorry you cannot retire on your own terms, but remember to look to the future. Your greatest impact on the world may be yet to come. Your voice for equality will inspire future generations. Much love to you & your family. https://t.co/AQUOP3LGec
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) January 11, 2019
The @andy_murray that I know will absolutely make it to Wimbledon to play his final tournament. Not many with more heart, effort in the history of the game. Was always a pleasure to share the court pal.
— Mardy Fish (@MardyFish) January 11, 2019
@andy_murray Andy you are the best no matter what! And so strong! All the respect !
— Svetlana Kuznetsova (@SvetlanaK27) January 11, 2019
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Andy, I know you take me for a joker most of the time, but at least hear me out on this one old friend. You will always be someone that impacted the sport in so many different ways, I know this was never the way you wanted to go out, but hey it was a heck of a ride. You took me under your wing as soon as I got on tour, and to this day you have been someone I literally just look forward to seeing. You are one crazy tennis player, miles better than me, but I just want you to know that today isn’t only a sad day for you and your team, it’s a sad day for the sport and for everyone you’ve had an impact on. Which leaves me big fella.. these are a couple photos, that should make you smile and think, I was actually a little bit of a younger brother to you. Anyways, I just want you to know, and I’m sure you already do, everyone wants you to keep fighting and to keep being you. Goodluck at the Australian Open muzz, I’ll be behind you. #onelastdance 🙌🏽🙏🏽
— Kim Clijsters (@Clijsterskim) January 11, 2019
Some urged Murray to fight on and finish his career on his own terms.
My thoughts are with @andy_murray and I really hope we continue to see you fighting on court so you can retire on your own terms. Get well soon... Tennis is better with you. pic.twitter.com/0z1401hKXe
— Kevin Anderson (@KAndersonATP) January 11, 2019
Andy, just watched your conference. Please don’t stop trying. Keep fighting. I can imagine your pain and sadness. I hope you can overcome this. You deserve to retire on your own terms, whenever that happens. We love you @andy_murray and we want to see you happy and doing well. 🙏
— Juan M. del Potro (@delpotrojuan) January 11, 2019
But, whatever happens, Murray and his fans will always have countless incredible memories from a fantastic career to look back on.
Congratulations Andy #Murray. A career that speaks for itself.
US Open Champion
Australian Open Final
French Open Final
Davis Cup Winner
100% from start to finish. Inspiring.
— Andrew Castle (@AndrewCastle63) January 11, 2019
First British man to win more than one Wimbledon title since 1936✅
First British man to reach world number one since 1973✅
First male player to successfully defend an Olympic singles title✅
Andy Murray has announced his retirement plans👇https://t.co/47ZMmgFP7r#bbctennis pic.twitter.com/RrPkjcNAEI
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) January 11, 2019