Scot must make the right call over his hip problem or else GB men face Grand Slam wilderness with no successors in sight
The Scot will decide this week what to do about his lingering hip problem: Rest for a few weeks more, call time on his 2017 season or have an operation.
Andy Murray knows the decision he takes over his hip could determine if he can still compete at the top level
Kyle Edmund withdrew from the US Open with a back problem but is rated by some as possible a future top-20 player
Whether he makes the right call will have a huge bearing on his ability to challenge for tennis’ major titles for what remains of his career.
But it may also herald the start of a fall-off in British success in singles at the highest level.
Murray has completely changed expectations, not only by winning the nation’s first Grand Slams for nearly 80 years — but also with his consistency.
Between missing the 2013 French Open with a wrist problem and withdrawing from the current US Open, he reached the last-16 or better of every Slam.
In the 19 Slams before that 2013 French Open, Murray failed to make the last 16 only ONCE.
When Murray, 30, calls it quits, British fans hope Johanna Konta, 26, can stretch the golden era of Grand Slam finals and major titles.
Andy Muirray has not only reached the top of the world but has been remarkably consistent in reaching the top-16 of the major events
Andy Murray will ponder over three options as he battles with a nagging injury
Konta has had another impressive year, reaching a career high of No 4 in the world, the highest ranking of a British woman for more than three decades.
But her New York flop — losing 4-6 6-3 6-4 to unseeded Serb Aleksandra Krunic — means that her Grand Slam record for 2017 reads: quarter-final, first round, semi-final, first round.
There is still reason to believe that Konta could match Murray by winning one or more Slams and even reaching the No 1 slot.
But on the men’s side, hopes have to be less high.
Kyle Edmund has made steady progress in the last three years.
Andy Murray reflects on his misfortune but still has the hunger to battle back
And he was terribly unfortunate to be forced to retire injured from his third-round match against Canadian 18-year-old Denis Shapovalov in New York.
Many believe Edmund has the talent, work ethic and room to improve to make him a future top 20, or even top-ten player.
But neither the 22-year-old, nor anyone else, is pretending that the he will be able to match Murray.
Rising star Shapovalov was one of two teenagers to reach the third round at this US Open, along with Andrey Rublev, 19, of Russia.
The last time more than one teen made it to the last 32 of the men’s singles in New York was 2008.
On that occasion there were three: Juan Martin del Potro, Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori.
Denis Shapovalov went through at the US Open after Kyle Edmund quit with injury
That is to say, two future US Open champions and Asia’s first-ever male Grand Slam singles finalist.
It is not a hard-and-fast rule that you have to make an early breakthrough to be a Slam winner. In the era of the Big Four, many players are reaching their peak later in their careers.
The three-time Slam champion Stan Wawrinka is the most obvious example.
But by Edmund’s age, Murray had already established himself in the world’s top ten, won Masters titles and reached a US Open final.
That is not to do Edmund down. He is improving every year in one of the world’s most competitive sports.
Fellow 22-year-old Cameron Norrie has also done well in his first year as a pro.
But Edmund remains the British man most likely to succeed Murray as Britain’s long-term No 1 — just as Murray picked up the baton from Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski.
Jo Konta has a dramatic grand slam record this year – one semi-final and one last-eight spot but also two first-round exits, including in the US Open
But behind Edmund and Konta, there are worries about the strength, and strength in depth, of the British juniors.
So immediately after Murray there may be a lull but, in the longer term, that could become a drought.
With the right decision about his hip and a bit of luck, Murray could come back strong enough to give his old rivals and the new generation a run for their money.
And do not forget older brother Jamie, 31, is looking to defend his men’s doubles title this week with partner Bruno Soares and follow up his mixed doubles triumph at Wimbledon with Martina Hingis.
But once the Murray boys have retired, days of glory for British tennis may well be few and far between.
Jamie Murray mocks Andy by training Google gadget to say he won grand slam first
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