The injury-ridden Scot has been hampered by a hip injury since a Wimbledon quarter-final defeat to Sam Querrey in the summer of 2017 and has struggled to regain fitness after undergoing surgery on the issue a year ago.
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And he has revealed that this month’s Grand Slam could well be his last, but that if he makes it through then he will most definitely retire after Wimbledon in July.
After admitting he’s “not great”, the 31-year-old said to the media in an emotional press conference: “I have been struggling for a long time. I have been in a lot of pain for about 20 months now.
“I’ve pretty much done everything that I could to try and get my hip feeling better and it hasn’t helped loads.
“I am in a better place than I was six months ago but I am still in a lot of pain. It has been tough.
“During my training block I spoke to my team and told them I can’t keep doing this. I need to have an end point because I’m just playing with no idea of when the pain will stop.
“Wimbledon is where i would like to stop playing but I am not certain I am able to do that.
“I’m going to play [in Melbourne]. I can still play to a level. Not a level that I’m happy playing at.
“But it’s not just that. The pain is too much really and I don’t want to continue playing that way.”
The three-time Grand Slam champion was driven to tears as he made the announcement to a room of journalists and revealed that the extent of his pain means he cannot put socks on without struggling.
Andy Murray briefly had to leave the room having been overcome by emotion before returning and confirming he could end his career as soon as next week.
Asked if the Aussie Open could be his last ever tournament, Murray admitted: “Yes I think there’s a chance of that for sure because I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months.
“I have a severely damaged right hip. Having the operation last year was to give it the best possible chance of being better.
“I can play with limitations, but having the limitations and the pain is not allowing me to enjoy competing or training.
“I have an option to have another operation, which is a little bit more severe than what I’ve had before in having my hip resurfaced, which will allow me to have a better quality of life and be out of pain.
“That’s something I’m seriously considering right now. Some athletes have had that and gone back to competing but there’s obviously no guarantees with that and the reason for having an operation like that is not to return to professional sport, it’s just for a better quality of life.”
Murray – a two-time winner of Wimbledon – played just 14 times at tour level in 2018 and just two of those matches were at Grand Slams, both comng at the US Open.
The update comes after he was convincingly outclassed in a practice session with world No 1 Novak Djokovic on Thursday in which the Serbian won 10 of 12 games.
Murray has slipped well down to No 230 in the world rankings and has been drawn to face 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round this coming Monday.
He still plans to partake in Australia, though could not offer an update on whether he will be able to continue after that.
Murray will go down as one of Britain’s best ever sportsmen for his achievements in an era of tennis in which he has had to compete with icons such as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.