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ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals)

Andy Murray’s Australian Open preparations suffer a setback after he pulls out of Brisbane International

The Briton says his hip is still giving him trouble and he is trying his best to avoid surgery

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 January, 2018, 8:44pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 January, 2018, 10:43pm

Former world number one Andy Murray pulled out of the season-opening Brisbane International yesterday in a major setback to his Australian Open preparations, hinting that surgery on his problematic hip remained a “secondary option”.

He suffered a right hip injury earlier last year and has not played on the ATP tour since losing a tough five-setter to American Sam Querrey in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.

He is not the only leading player trying to overcome injury, with top-ranked Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic also trying to recover in time for the Australian Open.

“I’ve obviously been going through a really difficult period with my hip for a long time and have sought council from a number of hip specialists,” Murray said on Instagram.

“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 to 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.

“Obviously continuing rehab is one option and giving my hip more time to recover. Surgery is also an option but the chances of a successful outcome are not as high as I would like which has made this my secondary option and my hope has been to avoid that.”

The Australian Open starts in Melbourne on January 15 and Murray said he would decide by the weekend whether to stay in Australia or fly home.

“It’s quite demoralising that when you get on the court it’s not at the level you need it to be to compete at this level. It’s really hurting inside,” the Scotsman said.

Nadal pulled out of the Brisbane tournament late last week while Djokovic is not sure of competing in the Australian Open because of continuing problems with his right elbow.

Murray’s withdrawal yesterday came just hours after Garbine Muguruza, the Wimbledon champion and women’s top seed, retired from her opening match because of leg cramps.

Muguruza fell to the court behind the baseline and had treatment on her legs before retiring from her opening match against Aleksandra Krunic while leading in the third set.

“I don’t really cramp a lot, so I’m actually surprised that today my body was like that,” Muguruza said, adding that her calf muscles started to cramp early in the second set. “It’s a shame because I always come here excited about the first tournament, and this one was bad luck, I guess.”

The Brisbane tournament was Muguruza’s only tune-up before the Australian Open.

Earlier in the day at the Hopman Cup in Perth, American Jack Sock was forced to retire after slipping on court and injuring his hip during the clash between the United States and Japan.

Meanwhile, at the Shenzhen Open, five-time grand slam champion Maria Sharapova, of Russia, came back from a set down to defeat American Alison Riske and book a spot in the quarter-finals.

Riske, who had been hoping for her first win against the former world No 1, proved to be a tough opponent early in the match before the Russian finally overcame her 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

“I’m glad I got this kind of match. Although I would’ve wanted a quick and easy victory, these are the kind of matches that you need, especially with such a short preparation going into the Australian Open in terms of match play,” Sharapova said.

French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko slumped to a shock defeat just days after beating Serena Williams in the American’s comeback match in Abu Dhabi at the weekend. Ostapenko lost to the big-serving Czech Krystina Pliskova 6-1, 6-4.

Earlier there was disappointment for the home crowd when Chinese No 3 seed Zhang Shuai was bundled out in three sets by Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas.

In Auckland, top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki needed only 57 minutes for a 6-3, 6-0 win over America Madison Brengle at the ASB Classic.

Agence France-Presse, Associated Press