Just a few days after announcing that hip pain may force him to retire before Wimbeldeon in July, former world No. 1 Andy Murray played and lost what could be his final Grand Slam match.
Murray played Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut (ranked 23rd) in round one of the Australian Open on Monday, and after being down two sets to none, he roared back and won the next two sets. He and Bautista Agut battled in the final set before Bautista Agut prevailed. Murray lost 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (4-7), 6-2.
It’s possible that Murray’s exit from the Australian Open is also his exit from Grand Slam tennis. On Thursday, Murray announced at an emotional press conference that his surgically repaired right hip is so damaged that his surgeon advised him to stop playing tennis. He said that he hopes to make it to Wimbledon, which is where he’d like to officially retire, but he’s not sure he’ll be able to play through another four or five months of pain.
After the match, Murray was interviewed on the court by Mark Petchey, one of the BBC’s tennis reporters and Murray’s first coach as a professional. He told Petchey “If this was my last match, it was an amazing way to end.”
“If” is the big word there. Murray went on: “Maybe I’ll see you again. I’ll do everything possible to try. If I want to go again, I’ll need to have a big operation, which there’s no guarantee I’ll be able to come back from anyway, but I’ll give it my best shot.”
Murray left the door open to a possible return later this year, or perhaps even farther in the future if he’s able to have surgery and completely recover. But as he said, if that five-set thriller is his last Grand Slam match, it’s a heckuva way to go out.
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