Andy Murray a doubt for Wimbledon after rupturing ankle ligaments

Andy Murray pulls up in pain during his match against Tomas Machac in Miami
Andy Murray suffered the injury during his defeat to Tomas Machac in Miami - Getty Images/Al Bello

Andy Murray’s planned career finale at Wimbledon stands in doubt after he ruptured two ankle ligaments during Sunday’s loss to Tomas Machac in Miami.

Murray revealed the news in an Instagram post on Monday night, saying: “I suffered a full rupture of my ATFL and near full thickness rupture of my CFL. I will see an ankle specialist when I return home to determine next steps.

“Goes without saying this is a tough one to take. I’ll be out for an extended period. But I’ll be back with one hip and no ankle ligaments when the time is right.”

To spell out the medical terms here, we are talking about the anterior talo-fibular ligament and the calcaneofibular ligament, two connected pieces of tissue that hold the outside of the ankle in place.

The double rupture happened late in Murray’s third-round match against Machac, which extended to 3hr 28min on Sunday afternoon. Murray was moving forward to the net after a forehand putaway when he pulled up suddenly in serious pain, then fell to the floor with his hands over his face.

It is a measure of his extreme toughness that, after a short consultation with the on-site trainer, he regrouped to play another two regular games and then a tie-break. Indeed, he could easily have scored an unlikely victory when he stood two points from the match at 5-3 in the breaker, only for Machac to surge home with a pair of sensational backhand winners.

Now, though, Murray will have to speak to a consultant over the best treatment options: either surgery or simple rest. It is hardly the first time he has been in this position.

Andy Murray in pain after injuring ankle ligaments in Miami
Murray was within two points of victory despite his ankle pain - Getty Images/Frey

Although blessed with unusually explosive fast-twitch muscles, Murray has been afflicted by a number of serious injuries over the course of his career, including a torn wrist tendon on the eve of his 20th birthday, a spinal problem that required surgery in 2013, and of course the arthritic hip that seemed to have torpedoed his career when it blew up in 2017.

The seriousness of that hip problem eventually led Murray to undergo a so-called “resurfacing” operation at the start of 2019, which involves the implantation of a titanium ball-and-socket joint. To fight his way back into the world’s top 50 with such a handicap was a phenomenal achievement.

Murray now faces further rehab – any athlete’s least favourite part of the job – but his Instagram post makes it clear that he is up for the fight. He has already suggested this is likely to be his final summer of professional tennis, and Wimbledon could well turn out to be his last stand.

It is understood that the normal healing process from an injury of this kind would allow Murray to compete by July 1 – which is the first day of Wimbledon – but any setbacks would complicate things. He would also be likely to arrive at his favourite tournament without the usual body of strength and fitness training behind him.

After a shoddy start to the season in which he lost his first four matches, Murray had begun to look much better on the court in recent weeks. Finding a solid level at the so-called “Sunshine Double” – which is the name given to the two big spring events in Indian Wells and Miami – he scored wins over two former top-tenners in David Goffin and Matteo Berrettini.

Even on Sunday, he should probably have put Machac away in straight sets, had he not become distracted by the unruliness of a restless crowd and then started arguing with chair umpire Carlos Bernardes.

Despite this latest blow, and his suggestion last month that “I’m likely not going to play past this summer”, no one should assume that Murray will wave goodbye to professional tour this year. He still loves the fight with a rare and intense passion, even when his body seems determined to betray him.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.