Brisbane International-Murray Out,1st Ld-Writethru


It is the start of a new year, the start of a new tennis season, but the injury problems which hampered some of the sport's biggest names still appear to be an issue despite the first grand slam of 2018 looming on the horizon.

Former world number one Andy Murray has withdrawn from the season-opening Brisbane International in a major setback to his Australian Open preparations.

"I came here with every intention of making a strong start to the year, but sadly my team and I don't feel that I'm where I need to be just yet to compete at the highest level", Murray, a two-time Brisbane International champion, said in a statement.

The 30-year-old three-time grand slam victor is now facing a race against time to be fit for the year's opening major in Melbourne starting on January 15, along with fellow ailing "Big Four" members Rafael Nadal (back) and Novak Djokovic (elbow).

In a lengthy and emotional Instagram post on Tuesday night, Murray said he was "really hurting inside" but would stay in Australia and decide his next move by the weekend.

Murray previously said he expected to compete in Brisbane, explaining: "Unless something happens the next couple of days, I don't see myself not playing because of my hip".

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Novak Djokovic (elbow) is also struggling, while Roger Federer took a bulk of 2016 off before his triumphant Australian Open return earlier this year.

"Having been recommended to treat my hip conservatively since the US Open I have done everything asked of me from a rehab perspective and worked extremely hard to try to get back on the court competing", Murray wrote.

"At Wimbledon, I nearly made the semi-finals". Obviously continuing rehab is one option and giving my hip more time to recover.

Current No.1 Rafael Nadal (knee) has already withdrawn from the tournament, while fellow top-four seeds Nick Krygios (hip) and Milos Raonic (hip and calf) are also on the comeback from injury.

"I'm hoping that that doesn't continue happening".