AUSTRALIAN legend John Newcombe has dismissed Andy Murray’s prospects of resurrecting his career and adding to his tally of three Grand Slam tennis titles.

Three-time Wimbledon champion Newcombe believes the Murray’s hip injury has effectively ended his elite career as one of the top players in men’s tennis. Murray, 32, has admitted to pain in his hip for "a number of years" - and after losing in the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2017, he took the rest of the season off.

After unsuccessful surgery in 2018 Glasgow-born Murray boldly claimed: "I'm not finished playing tennis yet. I'm going to be competing at the highest level again." 

Twelve months - and only seven tournaments - later, he gave an emotional news conference before the 2019 Australian Open, saying it could be his career swansong. Following a ‘Birmingham hip’ operation in January 2019, a procedure which involves having a metal cap placed at the top of his femur, Murray gambled that he could save his elite career but Newcombe isn’t convinced about the world ranked 128 player’s prospects.

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"I don't see how Andy Murray can ever get back to being the player he was given his age and the chronic nature of his hip injury,” Newcombe told Herald and Times Sport.

"At his age it takes longer to recover so I don't believe he can win more Grand Slam tournaments and compete consistently with the likes of Djokovic, Nadal, and even Federer who is in the twilight of his career.

"I predicted about 10 years ago that Andy would retire having won two or three majors and he's done exactly that.

"But he suffered a bad injury and at 32 he's not going to get any better.”

Murray was a last-minute scratching from the 2020 Australian Open and has also withdrawn from two tournaments in Europe next month that were seen as important milestones on his journey to completing a miraculous comeback. He has not appeared in a Grand Slam final since 2016.

The two-times Wimbledon and one-time US Open champion has also not played since surviving five gruelling sets in the first round of the Davis Cup in Madrid in November, and is again plagued by bruising in his right thigh bone, where he had a metal insert last year to repair his chronically painful hip.

Murray was cautiously optimistic about his prospects of returning to the men’s circuit after last year’s second surgery, which he detailed recently in a film documentary called Resurfacing.

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Amongst his 2020 priorities is a determination to be fit for the Tokyo Olympic Games in July, where he hopes to add to his tally of two gold medals.

Rod Laver, 81, is the only male player to twice win all four Grand Slam tournaments in the same calendar year, and he believes Murray could have walked in his illustrious footsteps and won a calendar Grand Slam; a feat only achieved by five players in the history of men’s tennis.

"I think Andy could have won a calendar Grand Slam [all four majors in the same calendar year] if he hadn't been injured,” Laver told Herald and Times Sport.

“He learned to play more 'kill shots' when he had his opponent down and although the French Open might have been the biggest challenge he definitely had the game to win on clay.”

Laver, however, is reticent in crowning any of today’s ‘Big Three’ as the greatest of all time.  The Australian legend played with a wooden racquet when Open tennis started n 1969.

"Modern racket technology has definitely made the game easier,” Laver explained.

“If [Roger], Federer, [Rafael] Nadal, [Novak] Djokovic, were playing with wooden racquets, they couldn’t play some of the shots they can execute now. That’s why comparing players of different eras and claiming particular players’ as the greatest of all time is a pointless exercise. All you can really say is that certain players were the greatest of their era and I would put Roger in that category."

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Newcombe concurs. The winner of seven Grand Slam tournaments is now a regular commentator on Australian television and is confident that men’s tennis will survive the eventual departure of Federer (20 majors), Nadal (19), and Djokivic whose eighth Australian Open crown on Sunday took him to 17 majors on the all time list as the most successful male players in history.

Newcombe said: "When Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer, all retire new players will step up to take their place. The King is dead, but long live the King!

"Its quite possible that the next generation can be even better players than those three and take the game to another level. Tennis has always evolved and new players will step up and take the game forward."