“Unfortunately, I won’t be able to compete in the upcoming events in Beijing and Shanghai, and most likely, the final two events to finish the season in Vienna and Paris due to my hip injury which has been bothering me the last few months.
“Having consulted with a number of leading hip specialists over the last week, along with my own team, we have decided that this is the best decision for my long-term future.
“Although this has been a frustrating year on court for many reasons, I’m confident after this extended period of rest and rehabilitation that I will be able to reach my best level again and be competing for Grand Slam titles next season.”
It was during this highly successful but intense phase of 2016 that Murray piled on the points that enabled him to take the No1 ranking from Novak Djokovic at the end of the year. It was by far the Briton’s best season: titles in Rome, Queen’s, Wimbledon, Olympic gold, Beijing, Shanghai, Vienna, Paris and London, plus finals in Cincinnati, Madrid, Roland Garros and the Australian Open.
However, that 78-9 season took a heavy toll. Murray contracted shingles during the off season, struggled to find the same energy and form this spring, and has been hampered by a hip injury since the end of the French Open, where he lost to Stan Wawrinka in a four-and-a-half-hour battle in the semis.
The problem was still evident during the grass season, and Murray lost in the first round of the Aegon Championships. Despite limping through many of his practice sessions at the All England Club, he then reached the quarters at Wimbledon, but was clearly in pain by the conclusion of his five-set contest with Sam Querrey, and has not played since.
If he is, indeed, unable to defend any of his titles this autumn, that will also prevent him from qualifying for the World Tour Finals even if he regains his fitness by November.
He did travel to New York despite being unable to play at the Montreal and Cincinnati Masters, but as No2 seed, he withdrew from the tournament after the draw, telling the assembled media:
“Did pretty much everything that I could to get myself ready here and took a number of weeks off after Wimbledon. I obviously spoke to a lot of hip specialists. Tried resting, rehabbing, to get myself ready here.
“Was actually practising OK the last few days, but it’s too sore for me to win the tournament and ultimately that’s what I was here to try and do. Unfortunately, I won’t be playing here this year.”
“I have never had to take any time off because of my hip before, so we were hoping that by taking a few weeks off and resting and rehabbing and really reducing the load that I was putting it through that I would be OK by the time US Open came around, but unfortunately that’s not been the case.”
It marked the first time since he played his first main draw match in New York in 2005 that Murray had missed the US Open. He reached his first Major final here in 2008, and went on to win his first Major here too in 2012.
Murray does not mention surgery, which is reassuring: Hip surgery would have a big impact on his recovery period and rehabilitation, as he knows from experience: He had back surgery in September 2013 and did not return for four months.
However, Murray has left open the door for the charity event scheduled for 7 November in Glasgow with Roger Federer:
“I will be beginning my 2018 season in Brisbane in preparation for the Australian Open and I’m look forward playing in Glasgow later this year against Roger for UNICEF UK and Sunny-sid3up.”
“I have a fantastic team working alongside me to help me through this process and appreciate the support from them and all of my fans over this difficult period.”
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BIOGRAPHY: Marcus Rashford