Tennis Preview - Australian Open

The pain is too much- Murray on brink of retiring

Murray is scheduled to face Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in his opening round match on Monday in a match which, if he loses, could potentially be his final appearance on the worldwide tennis circuit.

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 racquet.

The former world number one and three-time Grand Slam victor broke down at a press conference in Melbourne as he said the pain had become nearly unbearable.

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 230.

It was a practice match against Djokovic on Thursday that laid bare the seriousness of Murray's continued struggles. "You deserve to retire on your own terms, whenever that happens", said current world No. 5 Juan Martín del Potro. But he's 31 - 10 years ago, if he retired at 31, we will say he had a great and very long career. I personally think if you look only at the results - about the tennis, about the image, about the prize money and about everything - he did a great job by upgrading everything.

Top seed Djokovic, who launches his campaign for a record seventh crown against American Mitchell Krueger on Tuesday, said he also enjoyed strong support from Melbourne's large Serb community. His birthday is one week before mine. We played juniors together. We played lots of epic matches in the professional circuit (and) our games are quite alike.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: "Andy Murray has had a fantastic career and time and time again has made this nation proud... he will be remembered as one of the best and most successful athletes of his or any generation".

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Murray's hip problem first flared up at the French Open in 2017, with the Scot going under the knife the following January.

Childhood friend Rafael Nadal said: "We shared court in the most important stadiums in the world, competing for the most important things". He will continue playing through the Australian Open, noting, "I can still play to a level, not a level I'm happy playing at". But it was for a good cause.

Federer, who is now ranked number three in the world, said: "I guess everybody can understand where he comes from".

Halep goes into the tournament as world No 1 and last year's beaten finalist but the Romanian is also on a five-match losing streak, including a first-round loss to big-hitting Estonian Kanepi at the US Open.

"It's kind of sad to know that he might play his last Australian Open but I do wish him all the best".

"Of course, I hope that he can play a good Australian Open and he can keep playing beyond that, really finish the way he wants to at Wimbledon", said 20-time Grand Slam champion, who begins his Australian Open title defence on Monday against Denis Istomin.

Murray's career is expected to be finished in a matter of months. Yeah, I think everyone I feel like knows when it's time and when it's right. It's going to be uncomfortable.

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