Glittering career for Murray?

Andy Murray may have played the last match of an exceptional career

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Andy Murray won trophies and hearts during a brilliant career

By Joe Harker

Andy Murray has been knocked out of the Australian Open at the first round after losing an incredible five set match against Bautista Agut. Although he took the third and fourth sets on tie breaks his hip injury hampered his movement and Agut took the final set.

Murray described the match as "a brilliant way to finish" if this is indeed his last major competitive match in tennis. He hasn't closed the door on playing again but there is an acknowledgement that he is in the final stages of his career.

Before the match Murray had said he would try to make it to Wimbledon but retirement was on his mind due to his hip problem that has never fully healed. He previously had surgery on his hip but upon his return struggled to return to his best tennis.

He will reportedly decide next week whether to have another operation that could put a decisive end to his career and the decision on whether to have it will not just be down to a potential career finale at Wimbledon. Murray has to think about his health and quality of life after tennis, pushing himself and causing more pain will not be worth it at this stage.

If this really is the end for Andy Murray then he bows out as a multiple Grand Slam winner who was considered to be one of the four best male players in the world at a time when any one of them could have dominated in another era. He won a US Open title in 2012, in 2013 he became the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry, then went on to win it again in 2016. He also won two Olympic gold medals and a silver, plus a Davis Cup for good measure. In 2016 he made it to world number one in the ATP rankings.

He didn't just win trophies, he also won the hearts of the public. When he first started playing some disliked him, thinking him dour and surly. As with many Scottish athletes they were only British when they won, something Murray later joked about.

His tears after losing the 2012 Wimbledon final to Roger Federer made it clear that cared far more than people gave him credit for. Everyone was on his side when he won it the year after.

Hugely respected at Wimbledon, there are plans to honour him with a statue. Chief executive Richard Lewis said there had long been plans in place to pay tribute to Murray once his career was over. It is a fitting tribute for the two time champion.

Something else Murray deserves a mountain of praise for is his role in standing up for women. Always ready to correct interviewers who forget the achievements of women, Murray also fiercely defended his coach Amelie Mauresmo from criticism she would not have received if she was male.

This may be the last we've seen of Andy Murray, but he's not finished yet and at his post match press conference he was keen to stress the "if" of the matter. The door to Murray's tennis career is not definitively shut just yet, there is still the lingering possibility that he could return for one or two final tournaments. If not then he had a brilliant career and set an ideal example.

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