Former world No1 Andy Murray has admitted that he may need surgery to resurrect his career after suffering another setback in his protracted attempt to recover from a hip injury.
Murray, 30, announced on Tuesday that he was pulling out of the Brisbane International, just 48 hours before he had been due to play his first competitive match for six months.
The Briton, whose last tournament appearance was at Wimbledon last year, is now a major doubt for the year’s first grand slam, the Australian Open, which starts in Melbourne on 15 January.
Murray has been reluctant to undergo an operation due to the level of risk involved but conceded that surgery may be necessary if rehabilitation efforts continue to fall short.
“Continuing rehab is one option and giving my hip more time to recover,” he wrote on social media.
“Surgery is also an option but the chances of a successful outcome are not as I high as I would like which has made this my secondary option and my hope has been to avoid that. However this is something I may have to consider but let’s hope not.”
Murray, who has fallen to No16 in the rankings during his enforced absence, said he would decide before the weekend whether to try to take part in the Australian Open “or fly home to assess what I do next”.
He has played just two exhibition matches since limping out of Wimbledon at the quarter-final stage in July and revealed his anguish and frustration at an as-yet fruitless ordeal.
“I’ve obviously been going through a really difficult period with my hip for a long time and have sought council (sic) from a number of hip specialists,” he added.
“Having been recommended to treat my hip conservatively since the US Open I have done everything asked of me from a rehab perspective and worked extremely hard to try get back on the court competing.
“Having played practice sets here in Brisbane with some top players unfortunately this hasn’t worked yet to get me to the level I would like so I have to reassess my options.”
Fellow Britons Johanna Konta and Kyle Edmund, meanwhile, both fought back from a set down to progress in Brisbane.
World No9 Konta overcame Croatian Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals on a day when top seed Garbine Muguruza withdrew with cramp when 5-2 up in the final set against Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic.
Edmund beat Canadian Denis Shapovalov 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 to set up a last-16 meeting with Hyeon Chung of South Korea.