Is this the end for Andy Murray? Hopefully not, but the road back to the top will not be smooth

For the final 10 years Andy Murray’s identify has been inseparable from these of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic whereas the so-called “Fab Four” have dominated what has been a golden age for the males’s recreation.

As a disconsolate Murray began his lengthy journey from Brisbane back to Britain on Thursday, having conceded defeat in his newest makes an attempt to get better from the hip downside which has stored him off the court docket for the final six months, the 30-year-old Scot will certainly be hoping that in future years his identify will not be bracketed with another main figures in latest tennis historical past. Gustavo Kuerten, Lleyton Hewitt, Magnus Norman, Tommy Haas, David Nalbandian and Greg Rusedski are all members of an illustrious group of former gamers whose careers have been both ended or critically disrupted by hip accidents.

With most tournaments now performed on laborious courts, that are a lot much less forgiving than grass or clay, the more and more bodily nature of the fashionable recreation locations large stresses on gamers’ our bodies.

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Murray skilled in Brisbane final week but has now withdrawn from the Australian Open (Getty)

“Hips take a massive beating,” Johanna Konta mentioned right here on Thursday after her personal Australian Open preparations have been disrupted by a hip harm which pressured her retirement early in the third set of her Brisbane quarter-final towards Elina Svitolina. “Our game is becoming more and more physical and the demands of the tour, week in and week out, are becoming greater just because of the level of play, match in and match out.”

Britain’s Kyle Edmund, who is thru to the quarter-finals right here, mentioned that hip accidents have been significantly troublesome for tennis gamers “because it’s very hard to identify what’s going on”. He added: “Everything goes through the hip – loading, running, speed, turning, everything.”

While Murray had been hoping that relaxation and rehabilitation would treatment his personal hip harm, which first surfaced ultimately summer season’s French Open, the Scot admits that he will now have to take into account an operation. He wished to keep away from that possibility as a result of the possibilities of success have been “not as high as I would like”, although there have been gamers – Hewitt and Haas amongst them – who’ve returned to high-level competitors after surgical procedure.

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Murray’s frustration has been apparent in latest weeks (Getty)

There continues to be an opportunity, furthermore, that Murray will regain full health with out going underneath the surgeon’s knife. The Scot, who has by no means revealed the precise nature of his harm, may need to take coronary heart from the latest experiences of South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, who missed final yr’s Australian Open due to a hip downside but ended the summer season reaching his first Grand Slam remaining in New York.

Murray’s latest efforts, nonetheless, have smacked of desperation. How else would you describe flying midway round the world, enjoying a follow set in the Middle East on the approach, coaching for three days right here after which pulling out of each Brisbane and Melbourne earlier than flying dwelling once more, all in the house of simply six days? The emotional message that Murray posted on Instagram on Tuesday was proof of the turmoil he has been going via.

If Murray does decide for surgical procedure, it’s probably to be a number of extra months earlier than he returns to competitors. Moreover, even when he did return after surgical procedure, the chances are it will take him a very long time to get better his former ranges. Although it will be very tough to evaluate the two experiences, it took Murray some 15 months to get back to his greatest after the back surgical procedure he underwent in September 2013.

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Anderson grew to become the first South African to attain the US Open remaining since 1965, even after his hip harm (Getty)

The forthcoming Australian Open had been billed as a comeback match for a number of top gamers who ended their 2017 seasons early due to harm, but it stays to be seen what number of of them will really make the beginning line-up. Kei Nishikori, who’s recovering from a wrist downside, has already withdrawn, whereas doubts stay about each Djokovic and Nadal.

Djokovic, who has been troubled by an elbow harm, pulled out of this week’s Qatar Open, saying he was nonetheless not prepared to play. The Serb says he will decide on the Australian Open after enjoying in two exhibition occasions in Melbourne subsequent week.

Nadal, who performed just one match ultimately yr’s season-ending ATP Finals in London due to a knee downside, pulled out of Brisbane final week, although he was heading to Melbourne on Thursday and has been sounding optimistic about his possibilities of enjoying there.

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Australian Open organisers nonetheless hope Nadal will play in Melbourne (Getty Images)

Serena Williams, who gave start solely 4 months in the past, made the Australian Open her comeback goal but doubts stay about her participation. Although she performed an exhibition match towards Jelena Ostapenko in Abu Dhabi final week, she has since returned to Florida.

At least the Australian Open will have been grateful for the discover that Murray gave. At the final two tournaments the Scot entered – final summer season’s US Open and this week’s Brisbane International – he did not pull out till after the draw had been made. Craig Tiley, the Australian Open’s match director, mentioned Melbourne would “look forward to having him back”.

There will inevitably be hypothesis that we’ve already seen the better of Murray, but he may nonetheless hope that point is on his aspect. Edmund put in phrases what a lot of Murray’s supporters should be considering. “It’s a shame because Andy is only 30 and yet you see what Roger Federer is doing at 36,” Edmund mentioned. “Potentially he has got more years in him.”


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