The painful moment Andy Murray knew his tennis career was over

During an otherwise routine practice session with Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in Miami, the penny dropped that the end of his illustrious career was near.

The Scot, 31, recalled: "I had tears in my eyes and said to my team 'My hip is killing me. I shouldn't be continuing to go through that any more'. "I told them in the locker room 'This is it, I need to know when this is over'.

"As the practice went on, it was getting worse and I was like 'I can't do this. What am I doing this for?'.

"The same sequence is happening — as soon as I start to increase my tennis load and competing and playing matches, the pain gets worse and my performance drops and I have to take a rest for a few days.

"There have been points through the last year where I had spoken about stopping.

"I was in too much pain and wasn't enjoying it. It didn't feel like the surgery had worked.

"I had been advised after having the hip operation that things can improve after up to a year to 18 months. But my hip doesn't recover from matches or training any more."

Murray said he is in pain on a daily basis. In fact, his severely damaged right hip is so painful at times he struggles to put his socks and shoes on.

The plan now is to quit at Wimbledon, one final farewell in front of home fans to thank them for their support. Yet his broken body might not last that long.

He said: "You see me running around a tennis court, walking between points, I know it doesn't look good or comfortable.

"There are certain things on the court I cannot really do properly now — the pain is the driving factor.

"I can play with limitations. That's not an issue. But the pain is not allowing me to enjoy competing, training or any of the stuff I love about tennis."

The heavy beating by Novak Djokovic in practice on Thursday — in which he only held his serve once — did not help his mood, leaving him with a feeling of "helplessness".

And the honest 31-year-old does not fancy his chances of beating Spanish No 22 seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the Australian Open first round.

Monday in Melbourne could therefore represent the final match of a life dedicated to the rigours of this demanding sport.

Murray, who is considering taking painkillers for his last hurrah, has been dealing with the hip trouble for several years.

But he pinpointed his 2017 French Open semi-final defeat to Stan Wawrinka as a pivotal moment.

He hobbled through the following Wimbledon and then finally had an operation 12 months ago.

Hip replacement surgery is on the agenda but only once he officially hangs up his racquet.

He said: "Having hip resurfacing will allow me to have a better quality of life — that's something I'm seriously considering right now.

"Some athletes have had that and gone back to competing but there are obviously no guarantees. The reason for having an operation is not to return to professional sport, it's just for a better quality of life. If I was to stop playing today, that is something I would look at because it would allow me to go and play football with my friends and play golf."

Murray has spoken with sports psychologists to deal with the "draining" turmoil of everyone asking how his hip has been for the past year and a half.

And with the end nigh Murray looked back, pinpointing his second Wimbledon win over Milos Raonic and carrying the Team GB flag at the Rio Olympics in 2016 as career highlights.

Unsurprisingly, he acknowledged there will be few things in retirement to replicate the thrill of his achievements.

He sighed: "Unless you take certain substances, you cannot recreate the high of winning Wimbledon or winning a Davis Cup!

"Maybe when I finish I will be happy, living a more stable life.

"But I don't think I will ever be able to replace the highs and lows that tennis have given me."

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