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Andy Murray undergoes hip operation

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Andy Murray did have a second hip operation, after all, getting a metal implant one year after his first procedure on the joint.

The three-time major champion posted a message Tuesday on Instagram saying that he had the surgery in London on Monday.

“Feeling a bit battered and bruised just now,” Murray wrote, “but hopefully that will be the end of my hip pain.”

What’s not known with any certainty yet is what this might mean for the 31-year-old Murray’s future in tennis. Before the Australian Open, where he lost in the first round on Jan. 14, Murray said that he planned to retire at some point in 2019 – and that it was possible that Grand Slam tournament might be the final event of his career.

He is most famous for ending Britain’s 77-year wait for a male champion at Wimbledon in 2013; he also won the 2016 title there, along with the 2012 U.S. Open and two Olympic singles gold medals and a Davis Cup, while reaching No. 1 in the rankings.

Tuesday’s post included two pictures – one of Murray in a hospital bed, the other of an X-ray.

“I now have a metal hip as you can see,” Murray wrote, before showing that his sense of humor is intact by adding, “and I look like I’ve got a bit of a gut.”

He has dealt with hip pain for years and already had one operation in January 2018. But that did not solve the problem.

The night he lost to Roberto Bautista Agut in Australia, Murray said he would decide quickly whether to have surgery again.

“I have an option to have another operation, which is a little bit more kind of severe than what I’ve had before – having my hip resurfaced, which will allow me to have a better quality of life and be out of pain. That’s something that I’m seriously considering right now,” he said at the time. “Some athletes have had that and have gone back to competing. But there’s obviously no guarantees with that. The reason for having an operation like that is not to return to professional sports, you know, it’s just for a better quality of life.”

Murray had been keeping in touch with American doubles player Bob Bryan, who had the same hip resurfacing with a metal implant last August.

By December, Bryan was back at practice. And he made his Grand Slam return at the Australian Open.

“He’s been watching me like a hawk, asking me how I’m feeling after matches, after practices, where I’m at. He’s just trying to gauge how long it would take him, if this procedure is an option,” Bryan said about Murray. “I’m just trying to be supportive. I never once told him, `This is the way to go,’ because I do see that singles is a different monster. Those guys are really sliding around, killing themselves for four hours. Who knows if this joint would hold up?”

Andy Murray out in first round of Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia — If this was it for Andy Murray, if this truly was it, he gave himself – and an appreciative, raucous crowd that included his mother and brother – quite a gutsy goodbye, the type of never-give-in performance he’s famous for.

What Murray could not quite do Monday at the Australian Open was finish off a stirring comeback and prolong what might just be the final tournament of his career.

Playing on a surgically repaired right hip so painful that pulling on socks is a chore, he summoned the strength and strokes to erase a big deficit and force a fifth set before eventually succumbing to 22nd-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-2, Murray’s first opening-round loss at a Grand Slam tournament in 11 years.

“If today was my last match, look, it was a brilliant way to finish,” Murray said. “I literally gave everything that I had on the court, fought as best as I could, and performed a lot better than what I should have done with the amount I’ve been able to practice and train.”

Murray, just 31, is a year removed from his operation, and he said that he will decide in the next week or so whether to have a second one. If opts to avoid another procedure, he might be able to play in July at Wimbledon, where he won two of his three major titles, including the first for a British man in 77 years. If he decides for further surgery, then Monday’s match might have been his last.

Even with a hitch in his gait, even as he leaned forward to rest his hands on his knees between points, Murray summoned the strength and the strokes to push the match beyond the 4-hour mark.

And the fans tried to will him past Bautista Agut, who had lost in straight sets all three previous matches the two men had played.

They roared when Murray managed to break back to 2-all on the way to taking the third set, with his mom, Judy, smiling widely as she stood alongside other spectators.

They chanted his name when he grabbed the fourth set.

They rose when the compelling contest ended.

“Andy deserves this atmosphere. Andy deserves (that) all the people came to watch him,” Bautista Agut said. “He’s a tough, tough fighter. A tough opponent. He gives everything until the last point. I want to congratulate him for all he did for tennis.”

Afterward, a video was shown in the stadium with tributes to Murray from various players, including rivals Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, along with Nick Kyrgios, Caroline Wozniacki, Karolina Pliskova and Sloane Stephens.

“Amazing career. Congratulations, buddy,” Federer said. “I’m your biggest fan.”

Federer opened his bid for a third consecutive Australian Open championship, and record seventh overall, with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Denis Istomin at Rod Laver Arena. Nadal, whose 17 career majors are second among men only to Federer’s 20, overpowered Australian wild-card entry James Duckworth 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 earlier.

Nadal, who had surgery on his right ankle in November, hadn’t competed since stopping during his U.S. Open semifinal in September because of a bad knee.

“It’s very difficult to start (again) after an injury,” Nadal said. “I know it very well.”

Other major title winners who advanced on Day 1, when the temperature approached 90 degrees (33 Celsius), included defending champion Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova – who beat Harriet Dart 6-0, 6-0 – Angelique Kerber, Sloane Stephens and Petra Kvitova.

The highest-seeded player to exit was No. 9 John Isner, who hit 47 aces but lost 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5) against 97th-ranked Reilly Opelka in an all-American match.

The most attention, though, was drawn by Murray, who is as popular for his success on the court as his attitude away from it.

The stands were dotted with British and Scottish flags and with signs of support. When Bautista Agut entered, he was greeted by a smattering of polite applause. When Murray was introduced, there were full-throated screams, followed by chants of his first name.

As play began, Murray delighted his well-wishers every so often with terrific shots on a full sprint and his trademark, quick-reflex returns. When he flubbed a shot or otherwise let a point slide by, Murray displayed the muttering and leg-slapping self-contempt the world has come to know and expect – and, let’s face it, love – from the guy.

For all that Murray accomplished over the years, including reaching No. 1 in the rankings and a pair of Olympic singles gold medals, he never was able to leave Melbourne with the trophy, finishing as the runner-up five times.

When Murray eventually succumbed to his weariness – not to mention Bautista Agut – the arena speakers blared Queen’s “We are the Champions,” with its fitting line: “And we’ll keep on fighting ’til the end.”

If this was, indeed, the end, Murray did just that.

“I’d be OK,” he said, “with that being my last match.”

Tearful Murray: Australian Open could be last tournament

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MELBOURNE, Australia — A tearful Andy Murray says the Australian Open could be his last tournament because of a hip injury that has hampered him for almost two years.

The three-time Grand Slam champion says he plans to start his opening match against No. 22-ranked Roberto Bautista Agut at the Australian Open, where he has reached the final five times but never won the title.

“I’m going to play (in Australia) – I can still play to the level,” Murray said. “Not a level I’m happy playing at – but also, it’s not just that. The pain is too much really.”

Murray had right hip surgery in January 2018 and, after two brief attempts to return to the tour, played only 12 matches in the year.

He returned at the Brisbane International last week, where he won his opening match but lost in the second round to Daniil Medvedev, showing visible signs of limping between points.

The 31-year-old Murray, who ended long Grand Slam droughts for British men and also won the Olympic gold medal, had hoped to play the first half of 2019 and make a run at Wimbledon.

“That’s where I’d like to stop playing … but I’m also not certain I’m able to do that,” Murray said. “I don’t want to continue playing that way. I’ve tried everything I could to get it right and that hasn’t worked.”

Murray held a news conference Friday at Melbourne Park, and had to leave the room for a while soon after it started to compose himself as he fronted the media.

He said he’s considering another hip operation, more to improve his quality of life than as a way to return to the top level in tennis.

The Australian Open starts Monday.