Sunday 24 February 2019

Murray big name on casualty list

Scot out of Oz grand slam but organisers confident about Nadal and Djokovic

Andy Murray may now need surgery on his hip. Pic: AP Photo
Andy Murray may now need surgery on his hip. Pic: AP Photo

Former world number one Andy Murray will miss this month's Australian Open after failing to recover from the hip injury that has kept him out of action for nearly six months.

Murray, fiveg times a runner-up in Melbourne, has not played a competitive match since hobbling to defeat against American Sam Querrey in the Wimbledon quarter-finals last July.

The 30-year-old's withdrawal was confirmed by Australian Open organisers who published a statement from the Scot on the tournament's Twitter account yesterday.

"Sadly I won't be playing in Melbourne this year, as I am not yet ready to compete," three-times grand slam champion Murray said.


"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."

Murray played a one-set exhibition match in Abu Dhabi last week, losing to Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut.

He also played Roger Federer in a charity exhibition match in Scotland in November, but his hopes of playing in the year's first grand slam nosedived when he withdrew from this week's Brisbane warm-up event.

Olympic champion Murray has fallen to 16th in the world rankings and will now have to decide whether or not surgery is needed to overcome the hip problem.

"The chances of a successful outcome are not as I high as I would like which has made (surgery) my secondary option and my hope has been to avoid that," Murray said this week when announcing he would not play in Brisbane. "However, this is something I may have to consider but let's hope not."

Murray underwent back surgery at the end of 2013 but returned to play some of his best tennis and won a second Wimbledon title in 2016 and reached number one in the world rankings for the first time.

That effort took its toll on Murray in 2017 as he won only one title.

He joins Kei Nishikori on the absent list for this year's Australian Open after the Japanese withdrew to continue his rehabilitation on a wrist injury. Professor Max Fehily, the lead surgeon at The Manchester Hip Clinic, has extensive experience operating on athletes with similar problems.

He said: "As I understand, he's got a condition called femoroacetabular impingement, which is very common in athletes.

"We see a lot of it in football, rugby, squash, tennis, and essentially it's where the ball of the hip impacts against the cup.

"One of the problems with athletes is, as it impacts repeatedly, eventually it can damage or tear the labrum, but it can also eventually start to cause arthritis."

Several other players, including world number one Rafael Nadal and six-times Melbourne Park champion Novak Djokovic are battling to be fit for the Australian Open.

"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," Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said.

"Personally, I also know that Andy loves tennis and would do anything to play. This is a very hard decision for Andy and we totally respect it."

Tiley was confident that Djokovic (elbow) and Nadal (knee) would be ready for the January 15 start in Melbourne.

"I spoke to Novak. He's already got every hour of the day planned between when he arrives and the start of the Australian Open. He'll be ready," Tiley said.

"(Rafa's) on his way down here now so he'll be ready. It's not dissimilar from last year...Last year we were talking about the health of Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer and Serena Williams and two weeks later they were playing."

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