Andy Murray has announced his withdrawal from Wimbledon on the eve of the tournament.
The two-time champion had been due to play Benoit Paire in the first round on Tuesday and spoke positively about his prospects at a press conference on Saturday, but he has decided best-of-five-set tennis is too demanding at this stage of his comeback from hip surgery.
Murray said in a statement: “It’s with regret I’m withdrawing from Wimbledon. I’ve made significant progress in practice and matches over the last 10 days but, after lengthy discussions with my team and with a heavy heart, we’ve decided that playing best-of-five-set matches might be a bit too soon in the recovery process.
“We did everything we could to try to be ready in time. I will start practising on the hard courts from tomorrow and continuing with my rehab and recovery and I’m looking forward to the US hard-court season.
“Thanks for all the messages of support and I’m excited to finally be back playing after so long out.”
Following hip surgery in January, Murray finally returned to the match court at Queen’s Club two weeks ago, losing a close match to Nick Kyrgios.
Murray’s absence from the practice schedule at the All England Club on Sunday hinted that all might not be well but the news still comes as a surprise given his public confidence that he would play.
It is the fourth straight grand slam Murray has withdrawn from after his hip problems first became apparent at Wimbledon last summer and means he will miss his home major for the first time since a wrist injury kept him away in 2007.
The 31-year-old, whose ranking will plummet to outside the top 800, is next scheduled to play at the Citi Open in Washington beginning on July 30.
Murray has been replaced in the Wimbledon draw by lucky loser Jason Jung from Chinese Taipei.
Eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer feels for Murray.
The Swiss told ITV News: “Only he knows what he’s feeling.
“It must be a tough decision but one he’s taking for his career and his life as well. I think it’s a wise decision, he’d give everything to play here.
“I’m sad he’s not playing. He’s a big loss, one of the big guys here. He’s done so much for British tennis.
“But it’s not the end of the world, we all know that, and we all hope he comes back stronger and wins some epic battles on Centre Court again.”