Britain’s Andy Murray says he plans to retire after this year’s Wimbledon but fears next week’s Australian Open could be the final tournament of his career.
The three-time Grand Slam winner, who is struggling to recover from hip surgery, was in tears as he spoke to journalists in Melbourne on Friday.
“I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months,” said the Scot.
“I want to get to Wimbledon and stop but I’m not certain I can do that.”
However, 31-year-old Murray says he still intends to play his Australian Open first-round match against Spanish 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut next week.
The former world number one had surgery on his right hip last January and has played 14 matches since returning to the sport last June.
Murray ended his 2018 season in September to spend time working with rehabilitation expert Bill Knowles, but still looked short of the required level when he played world number one Novak Djokovic in an open practice match at Melbourne Park on Thursday.
In his news conference, Murray conceded: “I’m not feeling good, I’ve been struggling for a long time.
“I’ve been in a lot of pain for about 20 months now. I’ve pretty much done everything I could to try and get my hip feeling better and it hasn’t helped loads.
“I’m in a better place than I was six months ago but I’m still in a lot of pain. I can still play to a level, but not a level I have played at.”
‘The pain is too much – I need to think about my quality of life’
Murray was frank in his assessment of his abilities; conceding he is no longer able to perform to the level which saw him win the US Open in 2012 and Wimbledon in 2013 and 2016.
He told the world’s media of the agonising pain he is in when playing the sport and says further hip surgery might be needed to ensure he has a better quality of life in retirement.
“The pain is too much really,” he said. “I need to have an end point because I’m playing with no idea of when the pain will stop.
“I’d like to play until Wimbledon – that’s where I’d like to stop playing – but I’m not certain I’m able to do that.
“I have the option of another operation which a little bit more severe – and involves having my hip resurfaced – which would allow me to have a better quality of life and be free of pain.
“That’s something I’m seriously considering now. Some athletes have had it and gone back to competing but there’s no guarantee of that.
“If I had it, it would be to have a better quality of life.”
Murray also ruled out becoming a doubles player in the future, ending the possibility of him teaming up with older brother Jamie in the twilight of his career.
Raw emotion in a sombre media room – analysis
by BBC Sport’s Jonathan Jurejko in Melbourne
From the moment Andy Murray walked into the news conference at Melbourne Park, you felt a sense that something wasn’t quite right.
Asked a simple opening question of ‘How are you feeling?’, an emotional Murray struggled to get an answer of “not great” out before covering his face with his cap and sobbing underneath.
Murray has often showed his emotion on court but this was different. This was raw emotion in a place where players – and indeed sport stars generally – don’t like to show their true feelings in front of the world’s media.
A sombre silence filled the room before Murray returned to the room, a little more composed, and managed to tell us more.
The toils of the past four months: going to Philadelphia to work with rehab expert Bill Knowles and realising he still can’t reach the required physical level which brought him three Grand Slam titles, plus perhaps the harsh reality of being unable to compete with Novak Djokovic in a practice session here yesterday, have hit Murray.
Despite his fragile state, he still managed to fulfil his media duties and there was even evidence of his dry wit coming out as he was interviewed by television crews after the main news conference.
But a cracking voice was never far away as he discussed the pain in his hip and in his mind as he contemplated his future.
And when his media duties were done, the tears flowed again between him and coach Jamie Delgado as they shared a heartbreaking embrace in a corridor in the media centre corridor.