image

Australian Open

Andy Murray retiring: Juan Martin del Potro urges old rival to keep fighting ‘pain and sadness’

  • Tearful Murray announces he plans to quit tennis, possibly after Australian Open
  • Pain has become too much for 31-year-old, but old rival has words of encouragement
PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 January, 2019, 12:24pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 January, 2019, 12:24pm

Juan Martin del Petro has urged Andy Murray to keep fighting his injury woes and retire on his own terms.

Three-time grand slam winner Murray, 31, broke down in tears at an emotional press conference in Melbourne on Friday, where he announced he plans to retire this year at Wimbledon – but admitted he may not make it that far, saying the Australian Open could be the end of his career.

The former world No 1 said his hip was “severely damaged” and he had tried everything he can to heal it, without much success.

“Andy, just watched your conference,” Del Potro tweeted. “Please don’t stop trying. Keep fighting. I can imagine your pain and sadness.”

Andy Murray retiring because of hip injury – Australian Open likely to be his last tournament

Del Potro was speaking from experience – he admitted he came close to retiring after multiple operations on his wrists which sidelined him for most of 2014 and 2015.

The Argentine was also forced to miss the ATP Finals in London last November, having qualified for the first time since 2013, after fracturing his kneecap.

“I hope you can overcome this,” the 30-year-old former US Open champion said. “You deserve to retire on your own terms, whenever that happens. We love you @andy_murray and we want to see you happy and doing well.”

The two players, who have known each other since their junior days, have enjoyed a storied rivalry on the court.

Murray beat Del Potro in the 2016 Rio Olympics final to claim the gold medal for Britain, before Del Potro’s Argentina dispatched defending champions Britain on their way to winning the 2016 Davis Cup.

They have met 10 times, with Murray leading their head-to-head 7-3, and even had a heated altercation in 2008 when Del Potro made a jibe about Murray’s mother, Judy, during a changeover at the Rome Masters.

Murray now faces what could potentially be the final match of his career next week against Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round of the Australian Open, and plenty of other tennis stars paid tribute on social media after his press conference.

“You are a champion on and off the court,” legend Billie Jean King wrote on Twitter. “So sorry you cannot retire on your own terms, but remember to look to the future.

“Your greatest impact on the world may be yet to come. Your voice for equality will inspire future generations. Much love to you & your family.”

Former rival Andy Roddick, who beat Murray in a marathon Wimbledon semi-final in 2009, called the Scot an “absolute legend” and one of the “best tacticians in history”.

“I tip my cap,” Roddick tweeted. “Unreal results in a brutal era. Nothing but respect here. I hope he can finish strong and healthy.”

Grigor Dimitrov, who shocked defending champion Murray in the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2014, also weighed in on Twitter.

“Tennis will come to an end for us all but the friendships will last a lifetime,” he said. “What you’ve done for the sport will live on forever. I’m hoping for a strong and healthy finish for you, my friend!”