There will be no emotional return to the Australian Open for Andy Murray – at least not in 2020 – after a pelvic injury has forced him to scrap plans to travel Down Under.
Murray had felt pain in the groin area in the build-up to the Davis Cup Finals in November and after beating the Netherlands’ Tallon Griekspoor in the tournament’s opener, he was benched for the remainder of the event as Great Britain reached the semi-finals.
He returned to court over the past week but the injury has failed to clear up as quickly as was initially hoped, and he has made the decision not to compete with his British team-mates in the ATP Cup nor on his own at the Australian Open.
Murray has not competed in singles at a Grand Slam since his five-sets defeat to Roberto Bautista Agut in Melbourne at the start of the year, a loss that was billed as potentially the final match of his career.
Days before his first-round exit – after which he was essentially retired on court with great rivals Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic all featuring in a video projected on the big screens – Murray had broken down in tears in a press conference and admitted he couldn’t face the pain of his long-term hip injury anymore.
As it transpired, the three-time Grand Slam champion underwent a career-saving hip resurfacing operation, won a comeback doubles title at Queen’s in June before beating Stan Wawrinka to win a singles title in Antwerp in October.
Lampard warns Arteta about Arsenal fans ahead of Chelsea's trip to the Emirates
Khloe Kardashian wraps up warm at farmers market with daughter True
Michael McIntyre appears in high spirits as he enjoys football match
But Murray’s hopes of returning to Australia will have to wait until 2021 at the earliest, with he and his team taking the decision not to rush back – electing instead to continue hitting on court and building up his fitness in January.
He is still scheduled to compete in February and is currently committed to tournaments in Montpellier and Rotterdam.
Murray’s withdrawal from the inaugural ATP Cup will leave British captain Tim Henman without Britain’s top-seeded player – Murray had used his protected ranking to ensure his country’s qualification – and leaves question marks over whether a third singles player will be drafted in.
Dan Evans and Cam Norrie are the other singles players in Henman’s five-man squad, with Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury down for doubles, but Kyle Edmund is committed to events in Adelaide and Qatar, complicating his position as a potential replacement.
Britain do not have to draft a fifth player into the squad and can compete with four players, although they run the risk of having to use one of the doubles players in singles should either Evans or Norrie get injured.
It’s not possible for Henman to draft in Jamie Murray’s regular doubles partner Neal Skupski, with the fifth member of the squad requiring a singles ranking.
Injured Andy Murray out of the Australian Open
Murray heads into 2020 with new outlook as he bids to battle Federer, Nadal & Djokovic
Tennis awards 2019: Nadal, Andreescu, Gauff, Djokovic, Murray & Federer among the winners
Murray’s withdrawal is another blow for ATP Cup organisers.
He had initially been scheduled to face Roger Federer in the opening match of the season in Sydney but Federer’s own withdrawal saw that match cancelled.
Australian fans with tickets for the opening night session will now have to settle for a tie between Murray-less Britain and Bulgaria, who boast Grigor Dimitrov among their ranks.