Sat, Jan 12, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Andy Murray announces retirement

AFP, MELBOURNE

A tearful Andy Murray yesterday announced that he would likely retire this year due to severe pain from a hip injury, saying that next week’s Australian Open could be the last tournament of a glittering career.

The former world No. 1 and three-time Grand Slam winner broke down at a news conference in Melbourne as he said that the pain had become almost unbearable.

“I can play with limitations, but having the limitations and the pain is not allowing me to enjoy competing or training,” he said.

The 31-year-old said that he would like to finish at his home Grand Slam in Wimbledon, but ruefully admitted he might not make it.

He will be remembered as the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years and as a player who battled his way to the top in a golden era for the game alongside Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

“Wimbledon is where I would like to stop playing, but I am not certain I am able to do that,” Murray said. “I’ve been struggling for a long time. I’m not sure I can play through the pain for another four or five months.”

“Pretty much done everything that I could to try and get my hip feeling better and it hasn’t helped loads,” he added.

He pulled out of last year’s Australian Open to have hip surgery and only returned in June at Queen’s Club in London.

He ended the season in Shenzhen, China, in September after only a handful of appearances to concentrate on working his way back to full fitness.

However, he was knocked out in the second round on his return at Brisbane last week and called it quits on Thursday after less than an hour of a practice match in Melbourne against Djokovic, with his movement clearly hampered.

“I think there is a chance the Australian Open is my last tournament,” Murray said.

While he intends to begin his opening-round match against 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut next week, how his body withstands potentially grueling five-set clashes in energy-sapping heat remains to be seen.

One of the so-called “Big Four,” along with Federer, Djokovic and Nadal, who have dominated the game for years, Murray’s ranking has slumped to No. 230.

He has not reached a Grand Slam final since winning his second Wimbledon title in 2016, but has nevertheless enjoyed a glittering career since turning professional in 2005, with not only three Grand Slam titles, but two Olympic gold medals and 45 ATP crowns.

Notably, in 2013 Murray became the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years, ending the nation’s obsession with finding a champion to follow in Fred Perry’s footsteps.

World No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro, who has also struggled with injuries and is to miss the Australian Open, told Murray to “keep fighting.”

“We love you @andy_murray and we want to see you happy and doing well,” he said on Twitter.

Billie Jean King called him “a champion on and off court,” referring to Murray’s long-time support of women’s equality in tennis.

“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,” she said.

Murray said he had an option of another operation on his troublesome hip, but it was more about his quality of life after hanging up his racket.

“That’s something I’m seriously considering right now,” he said.

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