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Sunday, 27 August 2017 21:40 PM BST
What next for Andy Murray?
After withdrawing injured from the US Open, looks at what's next for the British No.1. READ MORE

For all the great things he has achieved in his career, the next few days could be as crucial as any that have gone before for Andy Murray. 

The Scot will not be a part of the US Open this year after he finally gave in to the hip injury which affected him during Wimbledon, forcing him to pull out of the final Grand Slam of the year.

“It’s too sore for me to win the tournament,” Murray said at Flushing Meadows yesterday. “Ultimately that’s what I was here to try to do. Unfortunately I won’t be playing here this year.”

It was an emotional few minutes at Flushing Meadows as Murray expressed his disappointment. 

“I’ve had the issue with the hip actually since my match with Stan (Wawrinka, at the French Open) in Paris,” he said. “I 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 obviously resting, rehabbing, to try and get myself ready here.

“I spoke to a number of specialists about it to get the best advice possible. Obviously when you speak to a lot, there are different views and opinions on what the best thing to do is moving forward, and that's a decision I'll need to take now. I’ll definitely make a decision on that in the next few days. That’s something that I'll sit down and decide with my team.”

Murray said he had been told he would not be doing himself any more damage by coming to New York to test out a hip problem he’s had for many years, but which has flared up and worsened this summer. It affected him at Wimbledon, where he limped out in the quarter-finals, and it forced him to pull out of both the Masters 1000 events in Montreal and Cincinnati. 

In practice this week, his ball-striking has been sound but his movement was restricted. Coping with it on grass, where the points are shorter, was one thing; doing so on hard courts, where the body takes such a pounding, was a bridge too far.

However painful the decision to miss his first Grand Slam event since 2013 was, it was surely less painful than continuing to play with a hip problem.

In simple terms, hip pain doesn’t improve by playing and so Murray made the right choice, albeit one that will have some short-term effects. Having begun the year ranked No.1 for the first time, if he doesn’t play again this year, he is likely to end it ranked around the No.16 mark, just as Roger Federer did at the end of 2016.

With Novak Djokovic, defending champion Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic also missing, it was interesting to hear Federer say on Saturday that he feels the seemingly unusually high number of absentees is down to the increasing age of the top players.

“I believe it's just that the guys who are hurt lately, it's mostly because they are 30-plus,” he said. “Wear and tear just takes its toll. Maybe some players have just had enough of playing hurt and told just themselves, When I come back I just want to be 100 percent, not always playing be at 85 percent, 90, 95 percent. It's just not fun this way."

Most players play with some sort of discomfort. “Some things just hurt and some things just don't, but some things you maybe are carrying, you know, maybe like a wrist problem or Achilles thing, sometimes it just lingers for like three to six months sometimes," he said.

"If you don't address it or it doesn't go away you just play with that pain for some time. It's easily acceptable, but you're feeling it, especially the first few steps when you get out of bed, all these things. You do feel your body.”

The 30-year-old Murray says there is no reason he won’t return to his best once the pain has gone and the injury is fully healed. He will do everything he can to avoid surgery, unless he absolutely has to, which means he’s likely to face a lengthy period away from the game.

It’s not the way he would have wanted to end a year that began with so much hope but if he wants to experience the highs again, Murray may need to make the hard choice.

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