'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'
Andy Murray's Australian Open ambitions up in the air after pulling out of Brisbane International
Andy Murray's preparations for the first grand slam of the year at the Australian Open have suffered a major setback after the former world No 1 on Tuesday withdrew from the season-opening Brisbane International.
Murray suffered a right hip injury in 2017 and has not played on the ATP tour since losing a tough five-setter to American Sam Querrey in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.
The Briton, 30, stopped over in Abu Dhabi last week before flying out to Australia, using the practice courts at the International Tennis Stadium at Zayed Sports City as well as taking part in an exhibition match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC) against Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut.
Murray lost the one-set match 6-2 but said that it had been "good fun" to be out on court again as he stepped up his rehabilitation with the aim of being fit for the Australian Open beginning January 15. Murray said on Sunday he felt in great shape and that he was confident he would play in Brisbane.
But in a statement announcing his withdrawal from the tournament, there was no mention of whether Murray would be fit for Melbourne on January 15.
"I'm very disappointed to be withdrawing from the Brisbane International," he added.
"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."
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The world No 16, who said on Sunday that he planned to trim his schedule in 2018 to prevent a recurrence of his injury issues, will remain in Brisbane as he works towards returning to the tennis circuit.
"I have great memories of playing here in Brisbane and I have always enjoyed competing in front of the Queensland fans, so look forward to returning in the near future," he added.
Murray joins top seed and world No 1 Rafael Nadal, who pulled out of the tournament late last week one week after also withdrawing from the MWTC, on the sidelines.
Novak Djokovic, whose withdrawal from his semi-final match at the MWTC due to a long-standing elbow injury on Friday resulted in Murray's hastily arranged match against Agut, on Sunday pulled out of the Qatar Open in Doha.
The Serb said in a statement he would return to competitive action "only when I'm 100 per cent ready to play".