Murray set to miss O2 finale with back op to end season

Frank Dalleres
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BRITISH No1 Andy Murray is almost certain to miss November’s ATP World Tour Finals at London’s O2 after accepting he needs surgery to overcome a long-standing back problem.

Murray, who looked troubled by the ailment during his unsuccessful US Open defence earlier this month, is set to go under the knife next week and is not expected to return to competition until 2014.

The 26-year-old sought specialist advice in May after a relapse at the Rome Masters forced him to pull out of the French Open and, although he returned for a historic grass-court season culminating in Wimbledon glory, switching back to the hard courts of Flushing Meadows and Croatian clay in last week’s Davis Cup tie has aggravated the problem.

Murray plans to recuperate in Miami with a view to playing in the Australian Open, which starts on 13 January.

“Next week, Andy is set to undergo minor back surgery in an effort to clear up a long-standing back problem,” the world No3’s management said in a statement.

“The issue flared up again during the Rome Masters this year when Andy was forced to retire and he sought advice from a range of specialists in May. After a successful return on the more forgiving grass courts, Andy enjoyed success at Queen’s and Wimbledon, but after recently playing on hard courts and clay, Andy once again sought medical advice about solving the issue once and for all.

“The aim is to be fully fit for the new season.”

Murray’s expected absence from the ATP World Tour Finals would deprive him of a first home appearance since July, when he became the first British man to win a Wimbledon singles’ title since Fred Perry in 1936.

It would also continues the Scot’s mixed relationship with the season-ending event, where he has never reached the final. Drained from his US Open triumph, Murray was knocked out at the semi-final stage last year by Roger Federer and had to withdraw mid-tournament in 2011 due to injury.

He also lost in the last four in 2010 and 2008, to Rafael Nadal and Nikolay Davydenko respectively, and failed to progress beyond the group stage in his only other appearance, in 2009.