The future looks far from bright for Britain’s top tennis players, but what comes next for Andy Murray and Jo Konta after their respective injury setbacks?
Andy Murray confirmed on Thursday that he will not enter the Australian Open due to his ongoing hip problems.
Murray: “Sadly I won’t be playing in Melbourne this year, as I am not yet ready to compete. I’ll be flying home shortly to assess all the options.”
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 4, 2018
But this latest injury blow for Murray will only increase fears that his time at the top of the game has come to an end.
Just days ago the Scot voiced doubts that he will ever be able to get back to the top of the world rankings, saying:
” I just want to be able to play tennis. I don’t mind if it’s 30 in the world level. I would love it to be No 1 in the world level, but yeah, I just want to play. When that’s taken away from you, you realise how important it is. When I have a few bad days, I might feel like I’m playing really poorly, but I might still be good enough to beat top 30, top 40 in the world, which is still a really, really high level… I’ll see when I get back on the match court.”
However, if Murray undergoes major invasive hip surgery at the age of 30 then the worst case scenario could see him never get back to a level where he can challenge for major honours.
It’s a thought that clearly worries Murray, who released a heartfelt statement earlier this week after pulling out of the Brisbane International, saying:
” The little kid inside me just wants to play tennis and compete. I genuinely miss it so much and I would give anything to be back out there. I didn’t realise until these last few months just how much I love this game. Every time I wake up from sleeping or napping i hope that it’s better and it’s quite demoralising when you get on the court it’s not at the level you need it to be to compete at this level.”
In contrast to Murray, Jo Konta has age on her side, but Thursday’s injury setback in Brisbane has come at a terrible time for the British No. 1.
The 26-year-old appeared to have be back close to her best at the start of the new season, beating Madison Keys in the first round of the Brisbane International and recovering from a slow start to brush aside Ajla Tomljanovic to reach the quarter-finals.
But a hip injury in the deciding set of her last-eight clash with Elina Svitolina forced Konta to pull out of the tournament – a worrying sign with potentially just minutes remaining in the match.
Konta said after the match that she is aiming to be fit to play in Sydney next week.
” I will definitely give it the maximum amount of time to be able to play in Sydney. I started feeling it in my right hip/groin area in the second game of the third set. I felt a little bit of pain go through there. I couldn’t really load through that right leg. As of now, it’s a bit of a waiting game. The most important thing now will be to get some physio treatment, have a good night’s sleep and wake up tomorrow and see where to take it from there.”
However, hip injuries are rarely straightforward and it would be an impressive recovery if Konta was at peak physical fitness in time for the opening round in Melbourne in a fortnight’s time.
Picking up an injury at this point in the calendar will be particularly frustrating for Konta given how suited she is to Melbourne’s hard courts. The Sydney-born Brit reached the semi-finals in 2016 and quarter-finals in 2017 and, with the women’s game in limbo as Serena Williams recovers from the birth of her daughter, this tournament would have been one for Konta to really target as she seeks a first Grand Slam title.