2017 was defined by the recovery of two of tennis' greatest players from injuries that had plagued the preceding years, but 2018 has begun with the possibility that one contemporary genius may never return to his best.
Andy Murray has not played on the ATP Tour since losing to Sam Querry in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and has been troubled by a hip injury ever since. Murray was a late withdrawal from the Brisbane International this week, and took to Instagram to post an emotional update on the state of his injury.
He is yet to fully rule out appearing at the Australian Open, although it seems unlikely that he will.
Caught between maintaining rehab and plumping for the more drastic - and less preferable - action of surgery, Murray has revealed that he may now be forced to pursue the latter option. Surgical success, however, is not guaranteed.
Here's the full text of Murray's update:
Hey everyone.. Just wanted to write a little message on here for anyone interested in what in going through right now.
Firstly I want to apologise to @brisbanetennis for withdrawing at late notice and to everyone who wanted to come along to watch me play(or lose). The organisers couldn't have been more understanding and supportive and I'll always remember that. Thank you.
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. 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 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 I high as I would like which has made this my secondary option and my hope has been to avoid that.
However this is something I may have to consider but let's hope not.
I choose this pic as the little kid inside me just wants to play tennis and Compete.. I genuinely miss it so much and i would give anything to be back out there. I didn't realise until these last few months just how much I love this game. Everytime I wake up from sleeping or napping i hope that it's better and it's quite demoralising when you get on the court it's not at the level you need it to be to compete at this level.
In the short term I'm going to be staying in Australia for the next couple of days to see if my hip settles down a bit and will decide by the weekend whether to stay out here or fly home to assess what I do next.
Sorry for the long post but I wanted to keep everyone in the loop and get this off my chest as it's really hurting inside.
Hope to see you back on the court soon ??❤️
Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are also likely to miss out on Melbourne through injury, and both sent Murray messages of support.
This was Djokovic's message:
Andy, thank you for genuinely sharing your thoughts and emotions with everyone.
I can imagine how bad it feels.
We all send you support and strength to get through [sic] this tough circumstances. God Bless.
Andy, we miss you and we hope to see you back soon! Get well my friend!