Murray to play Wimbledon doubles; out of singles

Andy Murray has withdrawn from his first-round match at Wimbledon against Tomas Machac and confirmed he has played his final singles match at the championships.

Murray, 37, is still in the draw for the doubles, where he will play alongside brother Jamie but, having had a procedure on a spinal cyst on June 22, Murray has not recovered in time to play singles. He said he would make a decision on his fitness at the last minute, and with him set to start his Wimbledon campaign on Tuesday against world No. 38 Machac, he has withdrawn from the singles tournament. Murray has been replaced in the singles by lucky loser David Goffin from Belgium.

In a statement, Murray’s team said: “Unfortunately, despite working incredibly hard on his recovery since his operation just over a week ago, Andy has taken the very difficult decision not to play the singles this year.

“As you can imagine, he is extremely disappointed but has confirmed that he will be playing in the doubles with Jamie and looks forward to competing at Wimbledon for the last time.”

Murray said last week that he plans to retire after this summer’s Olympics. The dream scenario was that Murray would play singles at both Wimbledon and at Paris 2024 but, though he was close to making a miracle recovery, his final act at the grass court championships will be in doubles.

It will be the first time he’s played alongside Jamie at Wimbledon, a place where he has experienced some of his finest moments in the sport. Murray won the singles title both in 2013 and 2016 — to sit alongside his US Open 2012 triumph — and he has secured his spot as one of Britain’s finest athletes. But he had hoped to have one last crack at singles at SW19.

The three-time Grand Slam-winner had scans after this year’s French Open which showed up the cyst. At the time it was not a huge concern, but by the time Queen’s began, the cyst had grown. That saw him lose coordination and experience shooting pains in his back and right leg during his second-round match with Jordan Thompson on June 19. He was forced to withdraw and then had the procedure on June 22.

Such a procedure usually comes with a six-week recovery time, but Murray was making good progress, returning to the court last Wednesday. A day later, he issued a public statement insisting he wanted to play at Wimbledon “one more time.”

He will get his wish, but only in the doubles competition, with the recovery not quite quick enough for his liking. After Wimbledon, Murray will turn attention to Paris 2024 where he remains in the mix for both singles and doubles. He heads there as a two-time gold medal-winner, having won at London 2012 and Rio 2016. If he makes the Olympics then he plans to retire from the sport.

“All of the discussions and conversations that I’ve had with my team are that I’m not going to play past this summer,” Murray said last week. Obviously I’ve had the conversation with my family, and I have a family holiday booked the week after the Olympics.

“I’m not planning on going over to New York [for the US Open]. But then I also don’t want the last time that I played on a tennis court to be what happened at Queen’s either. Again, I know that there’s more important things in the world than how I finish playing my last tennis match or where I finished playing my last tennis match.

“But because of what I put into the sport over the last however many years, I would at least like to go out playing a proper match where I’m at least competitive, not what happened at Queen’s.

“I can’t say for sure that if I wasn’t able to play at Wimbledon, and I didn’t recover in time to play at the Olympics that I wouldn’t consider trying to play another tournament somewhere. But if I’m able to play at Wimbledon and if I’m able to play at the Olympics, that’s most likely going to be it, yeah.”

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