Emotional Murray Says Australian Open Could Be His Last Tournament
A tearful Andy Murray on Friday said the Australian Open could be his final tournament. Murray, speaking to reporters in Melbourne, said the right hip pain that caused him to have surgery one year ago has not gone away, and has taken away any joy he once derived from practising and competing.
“I’m not feeling good. I’ve been struggling for a long time. I’ve been in a lot of pain for probably about 20 months now. I’ve pretty much done everything that I could to try and get my hip feeling better. It hasn’t helped loads. I’m in a better place than I was six months ago, but I’m still in a lot of pain. It’s been tough," Murray said.
"The pain is the driving factor because I can play with limitations, that's not an issue. It's having the limitations and then also the pain, [which is] not allowing me to enjoy competing or training or any of the stuff that I love about tennis.
“[In December], I spoke to my team and I told them I can’t keep doing this. That I needed to have an end point because I was just playing with no idea of when the pain was going to stop. I felt like making that decision. I said to my team, Look, I think I can kind of get through this until Wimbledon, that’s where I would like to stop playing. But I’m also not certain I’m able to do that.”
Asked if the Australian Open could be his final tournament, Murray, a five-time Melbourne finalist, said, “There’s a chance of that for sure. Like I said, I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months. I have an option to have another operation, which is a little more severe than what I’ve had before and having my hip resurfaced, which would 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... The reason for having an operation like that is not to return to professional sport. It’s for a better quality of life.”
Chris Kermode, the ATP Executive Chairman and President, said, "It's a sad day for tennis and cruel to see the career of a player of Andy's calibre curtailed through injury like this. Andy will go down as one of the greatest warriors in the history of the ATP Tour. His career achievements during this golden era in men’s professional tennis have been nothing short of phenomenal. He’s been a class act and made a huge impact throughout his career both on and off the court and his retirement will be a big loss to the Tour."
The Scot has had a decorated career, winning 45 tour-level titles, including three Grand Slams and 14 ATP Masters 1000 crowns. To finish the 2016 season, he won 24 consecutive matches, including the Nitto ATP Finals title, and finished as year-end No. 1. Murray became the 17th man to finish in the top spot in the history of the ATP Rankings (since 1973).
His 2013 Wimbledon singles title made him the first British man to win the crown in 77 years, since Fred Perry in 1936. But for nearly two years, Murray has been bothered by hip pain, and at 31, he has his overall health in mind.
“There's little things, like day to day that are also a struggle. It'd be nice to be able to do them, without any pain. Putting shoes on, socks on, things like that," he said.
"I have a severely damaged right hip and having the operation last year was to give it the best possible chance of being better. I mean, I'd been playing with hip pain for a number of years. It wasn't like it just started at [2017 Roland Garros] after that match with Stan. It just it got to a level where I couldn't, I didn't recover from that match, and pushed it over the edge. And having the operation was hopefully going to make it as good as possible. It didn't help with the pain at all. And that's been the thing that I've been struggling with, obviously."
Murray said he's talked with psychologists about his situation but those discussions haven't helped his frustrations, either.
“Nothing helps," Murray said, "because you're in lots and lots of pain. You can't do what it is that you want to do and you love doing. I can do it; it's just not fun, not enjoyable doing it anymore."