TRIBUTES began flooding in from tennis and beyond after Sir Andy Murray, one of Scotland’s greatest-ever sportsmen, announced out in Australia that it was his intention to retire after this year’s Wimbledon. In an emotional press conference at Melbourne Park, the 31-year-old, a three-time Grand Slam champion, will still play the Australian Open this year, starting against Roberto Bautista-Agut of Spain in a few days’ time, but would call time on his illustrious career after SW19 this summer – if, that is, his ongoing battles with a hip problem allowed him to get that far.

Juan Martin del Potro, the Argentinian who has been one of his rivals during his decade or more at the top of the sport, urged him to “keep fighting”. “Andy, just watched your conference. Please don’t stop trying. I can imagine your pain and sadness. I hope you can overcome this. You deserve to retire on your own terms, whenever that happens. We love you and want to see you happy and doing well.”

Andy Roddick, responsible for at least one punishing Wimbledon semi-final win against the Scot, said he was one of the ‘best tacticians’ in the history of the sport. “If this is true, I tip my cap to Andy Murray. Absolute legend. Short list of best tacticians in history. Unreal results in a brutal era. Nothing but respect here. I hope he can finish strong and healthy.”

Two of the coaches the Scot has worked with on his painstaking journey to the top spoke of their admiration towards a sportsman who has pushed his body to breaking point in order to reap the rewards which he has from the sport.

“When you search for examples of ‘emptied the bucket to be as good as they could be’ there should be a picture of Andy Murray sitting under that quote,” said his long-time consultant and confidante Darren Cahill. “Remarkable discipline for training, competition, sacrifice, perfection, a little crazy but a legend of a bloke. Bravo Andy.”

His friend and former coach Dani Vallverdu said: “Whatever you think ‘emptying the bucket; means times that by five and that’s who Andy Murray is. Thank you Andy .. for always being you.”