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What Are The Implication of Andy Murray's Apparent Withdrawal From The Rest of the Season?
Sunday, 10/01/2017
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After limping out of his five-set defeat to Sam Querrey at Wimbledon in the summer, the distress and pain etched across Andy Murray's face was there for all to see. In hindsight, Murray's decision to manage his recurring hip injury in a bid to make the US Open was probably a foolish one. The 30-year-old Scotsman considered undergoing surgery immediately after the conclusion of the grass court season after consulting with experts in Switzerland but instead decided to play through the pain barrier. However, despite maintaining that he could emulate his 2012 success at Flushing Meadows, Murray was forced to withdraw from the US Open 24 hours before the start of the tournament and has now conceded that it's likely he will miss the rest of the season.

The last match that the Scotsman played was on the 12th of July at Wimbledon and by calling time on the rest of the season, Murray is allowing himself around six months to be free of any sort of competitive action. Whilst Murray is still hoping to be available for his charity exhibition match vs Roger Federer in the week leading up to the ATP Tour finals, Murray will be unable to defend his crown at the O2 arena as his inactivity has led to him sitting outside the eight qualifying positions required to compete in the tournament (once the US Open points are added on to the rankings).

It is of course possible that Murray could return in time to defend his Paris Masters title on October 30th to qualify for the ATP Tour Finals, but this is highly unlikely after reading between the lines of Murray's most recent interviews. Murray will be hoping that after having the whole winter to recuperate, he is fully fit and ready to compete for the Australian Open in Brisbane and at 7/2 with most firms offering tennis odds, the Scotsman is still one of the favorites to lift the title, despite what will probably amount to six months of inactivity at the top level.

The most interesting thing regarding the upcoming Australian Open is that whilst Andy Murray is still comfortably the World Number 3, the seeding system employed in Grand Slams may mean that the Scotsman isn't even included in the top 16 seeds, which is unthinkable when you consider that Murray has lost in the final of the tournament an astonishing four times. With high-profile names such as Novak Djokovic, Stan Warwinka and Kei Nishikori also calling time on the 2017 season, there could well be a few big name clashes in the opening week at Brisbane and, according to the current race points distribution, there's a chance that the first Grand Slam of the year could see a quarter-final lineup consisting of Federer, Warwinka, Djokovic, Murray, Nishikori and Del Potro if all goes to plan.

After winning five straight tournaments at the end of 2016 and charging his way to the top of the ATP rankings, Murray is set to start 2018 much lower down the pecking order but the fact that Novak Djokovic and Stan Warwinka have missed a large majority of the back end of the season means that the damage has been limited. It remains to be seen whether Murray will eventually undergo surgery on his recurring hip problem after the mental scarring he suffered following a procedure on his back in 2013, but at 30-years-old, Murray will be well aware that he only has a few more years left at the top and will be keen to return to action as soon as possible.