Andy Murray drops retirement hint with ‘last few months’ comment after Dubai win

Andy Murray beat Denis Shapovalov at the Dubai Open  (AP)
Andy Murray beat Denis Shapovalov at the Dubai Open (AP)

Andy Murray has admitted that he may be playing his “last few months” of professional tennis as the 36-year-old continues to hint at a possible retirement.

Speculation over Murray’s future has swirled since a first-round defeat at the Australian Open in January, with the Scot suggesting after the event that he may have made his final appearance in Melbourne.

The 36-year-old has struggled for top form since, but was back closer to his best in an impressive first round win over Denis Shapovalov at the Dubai Open on Monday.

Murray dug deep to battle back and secure a 4-6 7-6 (5) 6-3 over the Canadian, setting up a second round encounter with either Gael Monfils or Ugo Humbert.

And while pleased by a strong showing, the three-time grand slam champion conceded afterwards that he probably doesn’t “have long left”.

“People read a lot into what I say on the court sometimes and it’s not always rational,” Murray said after securing victory. “But people ask me about [retirement] all the time anyway.

“I obviously still love competing and love the game, but it’s harder and harder the older you get to compete with the young guys and keep your body fit and fresh. It’s not easy.

“I probably don’t have long left but I’ll do the best I can these last few months.”

The veteran Scot has been forced to fend off retirement talk following a string of first-round defeats and looked set for another when Shapovalov, a former top-10 player, claimed the opening set.

Murray had struggled to breach the serve of his 24-year-old opponent, but produced a trademark gutsy display to edge a second-set tie-breaker and kept his composure to break twice in the decider to secure a much-needed win after two hours and 33 minutes.

Compatriots Monfils and Humbert meet on Tuesday with Murray awaiting a Frenchman in the second round. Defending champion Daniil Medvedev is the top seed in Dubai.

Additional reporting by PA