Andy Murray’s surgeon pessimistic about Wimbledon hopes
Dr John O’Donnell: ‘Realistically I don’t think there is anywhere else to go to preserve his hip’
Andy Murray plays a shot during a practice session ahead of the 2019 Australian Open at Melbourne Park. Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Andy Murray’s hip surgeon has revealed it will be very difficult for the Briton to continue playing until Wimbledon.
An emotional Murray admitted on Friday that his time as a professional is nearly up due to the pain he still suffers, and revealed his hope to bow out at his home grand slam in the summer.
But Dr John O’Donnell, who operated on the Scot’s troublesome right hip, said: “I don’t think it is impossible, but it will be very difficult.
“He enjoys the Australian Open, and has been very keen to play, but Wimbledon is the high point for him.
“Ideally he would want to play there, but I imagine once you make the decision that you are going to stop it must get very difficult to keep going with the rehab, never-ending exercising, and putting up with the pain.
“Once you see the end in sight, I guess it would be harder to get motivated.”
Murray is due to play Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday — a match which may turn out to be his last.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme, O’Donnell said Murray had exhausted all avenues in his bid to return to the highest level.
It has been suggested that a hip replacement would be beneficial for the three-time grand slam champion, but O’Donnell added: “Andy has tried really hard and explored every option that has any real possibility of being helpful.
“Realistically I don’t think there is anywhere else to go to preserve his hip and get it better so he can continue to play. That won’t happen now.”
Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic added their tributes to the outpouring of support for Murray.
It was a practice match against Djokovic on Thursday that laid bare the seriousness of Murray’s continued struggles.
“It was very obvious for everyone, you saw it, you didn’t need to be on court, to notice that he’s struggling, that he’s not moving as well as he normally does,” said the Serbian.
“We’ve seen so many years of Andy Murray being one of the fittest guys on the tour, running around the court, getting always an extra ball back. I think to that extent, we are kind of similar.
“Our trajectory to the professional tennis world was pretty much similar. His birthday is one week before mine. We’ve grown together playing junior events. We played lots of epic matches in the professional circuit.
“Obviously to see him struggle so much and go through so much pain, it’s very sad and it hurts me as his long-time friend, colleague, rival.”
Murray’s hip problem first flared up at the French Open in 2017, with the Scot going under the knife the following January.
Late in 2017, Federer took part in Murray’s charity exhibition event in Glasgow, and remembers how much the three-time grand slam champion was struggling.
“I know how not well he was,” said the Swiss.
“I couldn’t believe he actually played. But it was for a good cause. I guess everybody can understand where he comes from. At some point when you feel like you’re never going to get back to 100 per cent, you’ve had the success that Andy has had, you can only understand the decision.
“I was disappointed and sad, a little bit shocked, to know now that we’re going to lose him at some point. I hope that he can play a good Australian Open and he can keep playing beyond that, really finish the way he wants to at Wimbledon.”
Murray has never previously dropped a set against gritty Spaniard Bautista Agut but admitted he is in such bad shape physically that he expects to lose.
He told newspaper reporters on Saturday: “I know I’ve got no chance of winning this tournament and most likely I’m going to lose in the first round.
“I’m not happy about that. Because of the way the last six months of competing have gone, I could win but it’s likely that I won’t. It’s going to be uncomfortable.
“If it is my last match, I want to try and enjoy it — enjoy the whole experience, which is maybe something during my career that I’ve not done. I’ve always been focused on tactics and winning and finding a way.”