Murray ponders surgery after Australian Open exit
Murray lost 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-7 (4) 6-2 to Roberto Bautista Agut on an emotional night in Melbourne,
Andy Murray will decide in the next week whether to have a second hip operation but said he would be content if his dramatic five-set defeat to Roberto Bautista Agut at the Australian Open turned out to be his final professional match.
Murray, who announced on Friday that he is planning to retire from the game this year, threatened a miracle in Melbourne but was ultimately beaten 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-7 (4) 6-2 by the Spanish 22nd seed.
Murray’s hopes were not high given the state of his right hip but this was a remarkable performance for a man who admits he struggles to put his shoes and socks on.
The capacity crowd – which included his brother Jamie, who cannot normally bring himself to sit through Andy’s matches – roared Murray on and dared to dream of a miracle as he defied the pain to force a deciding set before the effort finally became too much.
The tournament had prepared a montage of Murray’s fellow players paying tribute to him, but that struck a slightly awkward note after the 31-year-old said he would do everything he could to try to play at the Australian Open again.
If he is to do so, Murray must have a resurfacing operation, which could end up giving him another chance on court but could also finish his career for good.
If he decides not to have the operation yet, then he will aim to play on the grass, finishing off his career at Wimbledon.
He said: “I’ll probably decide in the next week or so. If I go ahead with the operation, I don’t recover well from it, then I don’t play again. I’m aware of that.
“It will improve my quality of life, I’ll be in less pain doing just normal things like walking around and putting your shoes and socks on.
“Just now, going to walk my dogs, playing football with my friends, is like the worst thing I can think of doing. Waiting another five or six months to do something like that is just another period where I’m really uncomfortable.
“I just don’t really know yet. But, if today was my last match, it was a brilliant way to finish. That’s something that I’ll probably take into consideration, as well.
“It was an amazing atmosphere. I literally gave everything that I had on the court, fought as best as I could, and performed a lot better than what I should have done with the amount I’ve been able to practise. I’d be okay with that being my last match.”
It was a practice match against Novak Djokovic on Thursday that really set the alarm bells ringing, but Murray was able to find a much better level against a high-class and dogged opponent in Bautista Agut.
“Today I knew it was potentially the last match I would play,” said Murray. “I don’t care if I damage my hip any more in the match, so it’s a bit easier to deal with the pain because I know that I don’t have to hit balls tomorrow.”
The Djokovic practice was followed on Friday by the emotional press conference at which he announced his intention to stop playing this year, leading to an outpouring of tributes from the world of tennis and beyond.
Murray was relieved to finally reveal the severity of his struggles and was left stunned by the reaction.
“Once I chatted to you guys, although it was difficult for me, I felt a lot better because, for the last 18 months, I was struggling a lot,” he said.
“When you’re going to compete, you want to be positive and optimistic about things because you don’t want to be telling your opponents how bad you’re feeling.
“That was the first time I came out and let everyone know how bad it’s been, and (how) tough. I felt a lot better after that. But obviously the reaction, I was really surprised by. I genuinely was not expecting it to be like that at all. It was really nice.”
Murray is disappointed his two young daughters will probably never watch him play a professional match and admitted his main regret is that his desire to wring everything out of himself led him to over-train.
He said: “For sure I would have been OK if I’d played a little bit less, taken a few more days off, spent a bit more time resting. Right now, it’s something that frustrates me because of the situation I’m in.”
Asked what he thought his legacy would be, the three-time grand slam champion said: “I don’t know what it will be, but I know that I did give my best to the sport.
“I tried as hard as I could. Some people have said the last few days, I got everything out of my game and stuff. But I feel like I should have done better, I could have done things differently. There’s matches here, for example, that I would love to play again.”