Andy Murray to retire, Australian Open could be last event

Andy Murray after defeating Novak Djokovic to win the 2012 US Open in New York. Murray said he would like to retire at Wimbledon but admitted it may come sooner than that. (AP Photo)
Updated 11 January 2019
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Andy Murray to retire, Australian Open could be last event

  • Murray likely to retire this year due to severe pain from a hip injury
  • Indicated next week’s Australian Open could be his last tournament

MELBOURNE: A tearful Andy Murray on Friday announced he would likely retire this year due to severe pain from a hip injury, saying next week’s Australian Open could be the last tournament of a glittering career.
The former world number one and three-time Grand Slam winner broke down at a press conference in Melbourne as he said the pain had become almost unbearable.
“I can play with limitations. But having the limitations and the pain is not allowing me to enjoy competing or training,” the emotional Scot said.

Thirty-one-year-old “Sir Andy” said he would like to finish at his home Grand Slam in Wimbledon, but ruefully admitted he might not make it that far.
He will be remembered as the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years and as a player who battled his way to the top in a golden era for the game alongside Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
“Wimbledon is where I would like to stop playing, but I am not certain I am able to do that,” he said.
“I’ve been struggling for a long time. I’m not sure I can play through the pain for another four or five months.
“Pretty much done everything that I could to try and get my hip feeling better and it hasn’t helped loads.”
He pulled out of last year’s Australian Open to have hip surgery and only returned in June at Queen’s Club in London.
He ended the season at Shenzhen in September after only a handful of appearances to concentrate on working his way back to full fitness.
But he was knocked out in the second round on his return at Brisbane last week and called it quits on Thursday after less than an hour of a practice match in Melbourne against Djokovic, with his movement clearly hampered.
“I think there is a chance the Australian Open is my last tournament,” he said.
While he intends to begin his opening-round match against 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut next week, how his body withstands potentially gruelling five-set clashes in energy-sapping heat remains to be seen.
One of the so-called Big Four, along with Federer, Djokovic and Nadal, who have dominated the game for years, Murray’s ranking has slumped to 230.
He hasn’t reached a Grand Slam final since winning his second Wimbledon title in 2016, but has nevertheless enjoyed a glittering career since turning professional in 2005, with not only three Grand Slam titles, but two Olympic gold medals and 45 ATP crowns.
Notably, in 2013 Murray became the first British man to win Wimbledon for 77 years, ending the nation’s obsession with finding a champion to follow in the footsteps of Fred Perry.
World number five Juan Martin del Potro, who has also struggled with injuries and will miss the Australian Open, told Murray to “keep fighting.”
“We love you @andy_murray and we want to see you happy and doing well,” he added.
Billie Jean King called him “a champion on and off court,” referring to Murray’s long-time support of women’s equality in tennis.
“So sorry you cannot retire on your own terms, but remember to look to the future. Your greatest impact on the world may be yet to come. Your voice for equality will inspire future generations,” she said.
Top Australian coach Darren Cahill, who until recently was mentoring world number one Simona Halep, said Murray was an example of the never-say-die attitude that separated the best from the average.
“When you search for examples of ‘emptied the bucket to be as good as they could be’ there should be a picture of Andy Murray sitting under that quote,” he tweeted.
“Remarkable discipline for training, competition, sacrifice, perfection, a little crazy but a legend of a bloke.”
Former star Andy Roddick also paid tribute on Twitter.
“I tip my cap to @andy_murray! Absolute legend. Short list of best tacticians in history. Unreal results in a brutal era. Nothing but respect here. I hope he can finish strong and healthy,” he said.
Murray said he had an option of another operation on his troublesome hip, but it was more about his quality of life after hanging up his racquet.
“That’s something I’m seriously considering right now,” he said.

 


Underdogs with bite and sloppy South Korea: What we learned from the Asian Cup second round

Updated 23 January 2019
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Underdogs with bite and sloppy South Korea: What we learned from the Asian Cup second round

  • Can the mighty minnows continue impressive run in the UAE?
  • Or will the big guns start to fire in quarterfinals?

LONDON: Asia’s biggest sporting spectacle has reached its quarterfinal stage — and it’s time for teams to find their A-game. While there are few surprises in the last-eight lineup, the form of some of the big-name sides has been less than impressive. Here we deliver our verdict on the second round.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT — Saudi Arabia’s attack

The Green Falcons started the tournament at top speed. They came in as one of the cup favorites and in their opening two matches illustrated why. A 4-0 thrashing of North Korea was backed up with a relatively simple 2-0 victory over Lebanon. Understandably, that raised hopes that Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men could go all the way in the UAE. Alas, it was not to be as a 2-0 defeat to Qatar in their last group clash left them with a tricky tie against Japan. For all their efforts Saudi Arabia were unable to find the back of the net, the lack of firepower upfront costing Pizzi’s team yet again.



BIGGEST SHOCK — South Korean sloppiness

Boosted by the arrival of Tottenham star Son Heung-Min, South Korea were rightly declared the pre-tournament favorites. They had firepower up front, intelligence and creativity in midfield, and experience at the back. In the four matches in the UAE so far, however, they have looked anything but potential champions. They labored to beat Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines and China in the group stage before almost being shocked by part-timers Bahrain in the second round. South Korea now face Qatar in the last eight and, as Son said after their extra-time win over Bahrain, they need to significantly improve if they are to avoid a shock exit before the semis.



UNDER PRESSURE — Alberto Zaccheroni and the UAE



The Whites owe their place in the last eight to luck more than skill. In some ways that is not a surprise — the hosts came into the tournament without their talisman, the injured Omar Abdulrahman, and on the back of a patchy run of form. But, still, the performances on home soil have been underwhelming to say the least. That was summed up with their extra-time win over Kyrgyzstan, who were playing in their first Asian Cup. It was a far-from-convincing performance and Central Asians were unlucky not to beat Zaccheroni’s side. The UAE will have to deliver their best performance for some time if they are to progress further. Their opponents, Australia, have also performed poorly, which may offer them some encouragement.



BEST HIGHLIGHT — The mighty minnows

The big guns have not had it all their own way. That may annoy their fans, but it does show that Asian football is improving. Only a few years ago the idea that Kyrgyzstan, Bahrain and Jordan would look the equals of Australia and Co. would have seemed fanciful. But in the past two weeks the standard shown by the so-called lesser lights has been impressive — and great to watch. Last summer five Asian teams appeared at the World Cup for the first time and it was hoped that showing would act as a springboard for further progress across the continent. On the evidence of the action in the UAE that wish could be coming true.

 

PREDICTIONS