|Australian Open 2019|
|Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 14-27 January|
|Coverage: Daily live commentaries on the BBC Sport website, listen to Tennis Breakfast daily from 07:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and watch highlights on BBC TV and online from 19 January.|
Three-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray has revealed he had been planning to retire after this year’s Wimbledon.
But the 31-year-old fears next week’s Australian Open could be his final tournament.
Murray broke down in tears at a news conference in Melbourne on Friday as he discussed his long battle to return to fitness following hip surgery.
How are you feeling and how is the hip?
Andy Murray: “Yeah, not great…” (Long pause as Murray starts crying before getting up and leaving the stage)
The moderator: “Everybody stay in your seats. We’ll continue in a moment.”
(Murray returns after a three-minute break to compose himself)
Murray: “Sorry. Yeah, so not feeling good. Obviously been struggling for a long time. I have been in a lot of pain for, well, it’s been probably about 20 months now. I pretty much have done everything that I could, you know, to try to get my hip feeling better. You know, it hasn’t helped loads.
“I’m at a better place than I was six months ago, but still in a lot of pain. And, yeah, it’s been tough.”
Will you play in the tournament?
Murray: “Yeah, I’m going to play. I can still play, but not to a level I’m happy playing at. But also, you know, it’s not just that. The pain is too much really. Yeah, it’s not something, you know, I don’t want to continue playing that way. I think, like I said, I tried pretty much everything that I could to get it right. That hasn’t worked.
“So, you know, my plan, kind of in the middle to end of December during my training block, I spoke to my team and I told them that I can’t keep doing this, that I needed to have, like, an end point because sort of playing with no idea when this, the pain, was going to stop…
“I felt like making that decision, you know, I said to my team: look, I think I can get through this till Wimbledon. That is where I’d like to – that that’s where I would like to stop, stop playing.
“But I’m also not certain I’m able to do that.” (Starts to become emotional again)
Does that mean this might be your last tournament?
Murray: “Yeah, I think there’s a chance of that. Yeah, for sure. Yeah, there’s a chance of that for sure. Yeah, 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 bit more kind of severe than what I’ve had before – having my hip resurfaced – which will allow me to have a better quality of life and be out of pain.
“That’s something that I’m seriously considering right now. Some athletes have had that and have 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 sports, you know, it’s just for a better quality of life.”
Is that the driving force behind it: you want to make sure you have a good quality of life once you stop playing, for your family, for yourself?
Murray: “Yeah, for myself mainly. You know, there’s lots of little things that obviously you guys see me running around a tennis court, walking in between points, and obviously I know it doesn’t look good, it doesn’t look comfortable.
“But, you know, there’s little things, you know, day-to-day, that are also a struggle. Yeah, it would be nice to be able to do them without any pain. Putting shoes on, socks on, things like that.
“So, yeah, I mean, that’s the main reason for doing it. It’s something that if I was to have an operation like that, I mean, I would rehab correctly and do it properly to give my hip the best chance of being as good as it can be.
“But I’m also realistic in knowing that that’s not an easy thing to come back to or play professional sport to a high level.
“I mean, it has been done. Bob Bryan had this operation post-Wimbledon last year, and is obviously back playing. I’ve had lots of communication with him about it. But obviously there’s a difference between singles and doubles in terms of the physicality and the movement and stuff. Certainly no guarantees there.
Being back in Melbourne, I wonder if you had a chance to see the surgeon who did the operation last year? Could you tell us what his verdict has been?
Murray: “I saw him yesterday actually, yeah. Yeah, I mean, I have a severely damaged right hip. 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 the French Open after a match with Stan [Wawrinka]. It just got to a level where I didn’t recover from that match, pushed it over the edge.
“Having the operation was hopefully going to, like I say, make it as good as possible. It didn’t help with the pain at all. That’s kind of been the thing that I’ve been struggling with.
“Obviously, like, the walking and certain things on the court I can’t really do properly. But the pain is kind of the driving factor. I can play with limitations; that’s not an issue. It’s having the limitations and also the pain is not allowing me to enjoy competing or training or any of the stuff that I love about tennis.”
You mentioned Bob Bryan. Is there any possibility you might consider being a doubles player?
From a psychological perspective, what have you been doing in order to deal with everything that you just said?
Murray: “Well, I mean, I’ve talked a lot, I mean, way too much about my hip, for 18 months. I mean, it’s a daily thing. It isn’t just people I work with that ask me. It’s everyone. Everyone I bump into, that’s all I talk about.
“Yeah, it’s just pretty draining. I mean, I’ve spoken not loads but a number of times to psychologists and stuff about it. But nothing helps because you’re in lots of, lots of pain. You can’t do what it is that you want to do, you love doing.
“I can do it, but it’s just not fun, not enjoyable doing it any more. Yeah, I mean, that’s kind of what I’ve done. I’ve just tried to deal with it, talked about it, but none of that makes my hip feel better, unfortunately. I wish it did. If it did, would be feeling brilliant just now, but it doesn’t, so…”