Andy Murray needed only a couple of days in Australia to realise the hip problem that has kept him out of competitive tennis since Wimbledon was not going to improve in time for the season’s first major.
The five-time finalist withdrew from the Australian Open yesterday, two days after pulling out of a tune-up event in Brisbane before his first match.
Confirmation of his absence came hours after Kei Nishikori announced that he, also, would not have enough time to fully recover from a torn wrist tendon before the Australian Open starts on January 15 in Melbourne.
Murray was preparing to leave Australia at the same time as injured former champions Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal were on the way to Melbourne.
“Sadly, I won’t be playing in Melbourne this year, as I am not yet ready to compete,” Murray said in a statement. “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.”
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said he understood Murray’s early decision.
“We are fully aware that Andy has been going through a difficult period with his hip and that he’s done everything possible to prepare for the Australian summer,” Tiley said. “This is a very hard decision for Andy and we totally respect it.”
Former No 1-ranked Murray, a three-time major winner, has not played a competitive match since a quarter-final exit at Wimbledon last July.
In a heartfelt social media post earlier in the week, the 30-year-old Murray contemplated surgery as an option after failing to overcome the pain with rest and rehabilitation.
In the lengthy Instagram post, Murray said he had worked hard on the conservative option of rest and rehabilitation but was now having to consider alternatives.
“Obviously continuing rehab is one option …. 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.”
Murray spent 41 weeks at No 1 in the rankings until last August, but slipped to a year-end No. 16 because of his prolonged absence from the tour.
“I would give anything to be back out there. I didn’t realise until these last few months just how much I love this game,” Murray posted. “It’s quite demoralising when you get on the court it’s not at the level you need it to be to compete at this level, he said.