Andy Murray has pulled out of the Australian Open due to his ongoing problems with a hip injury. Murray had planned to go to Melbourne late this week to practice again, but conceded defeat in his brave bid this afternoon. Murray said: "Sadly I won't be playing in Melbourne this year, as I am not yet ready to compete. I'll be flying home shortly to assess all the options but I appreciate all the messages of support and I hope to be back playing soon". The Scottish will fall from number 16 to outside the top 20 in the rankings when his Australian Open fourth-round points from 2017 falls off his 52-week rolling points tally next month.
The three-time Grand Slam champion and former world No 1 has not played a competitive match since he was beaten in the Wimbledon quarter-finals last year. The 30-year-old Brit attempted a comeback at the US Open in August but was forced to withdraw two days before the start of the tournament. Last week in Abu Dhabi, he played a one-set exhibition match but did not look 100 per cent and, having already pulled out of the Brisbane International, he has now decided to sit out the season's first Grand Slam.
Tournament organiser Craig Tiley said: “We are fully aware that Andy has been going through a difficult period with his hip and that he’s done everything possible to prepare for the Australian summer. Andy loves tennis and would do anything to play. This is a very hard decision for Andy and we totally respect it. We wish him the absolute best on his road to recovery and look forward to having him back in Melbourne. He is a true champion and one of our favourites”.
At least he has company. Kei Nishikori earlier in the day withdrew from the Australian Open, while Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka, among several others, are all carrying injuries, or recovering from them.