ANDY Murray has been written off in the past and gone on to prove the sceptics wrong. But never perhaps in such stark terms as this. As he prepares to go into the Australian Open at Melbourne Park this fortnight, Patrick McEnroe, the former Grand Slam doubles champion and pundit, said there were “major question marks” over the Scot’s on-court fitness as he attempts to kick start his career again after hip surgery and said he wouldn’t be surprised if he considered retirement if this season didn’t pan out the way he wants it to.

The 31-year-old, who played a practice match against pre-tournament favourite Novak Djokovic on the Margaret Court arena yesterday, has played just two matches since shutting down his 2018 campaign back in September to get in a set of physio work in at this camp in Philadelphia. After a first round win against Jack Duckworth on New Year’s Day in Brisbane , he went down in the second round to Daniil Medvedev.

“I would say that he has got some major question marks,” said McEnroe of the Scot, who learned his fate in the Australian Open draw this morning. “Even to hear him say that he is in pain.

“I watched a decent amount of the match he played against [Daniil] Medvedev [in Brisbane] and in the first set he looked like the was moving pretty well,” said John’s younger brother. “But as the match went on it wasn’t quite 100%. You know, the hip is incredibly difficult to come back from, especially for a tennis player who has worked as hard as he has and put the miles on that he has.

“I am not optimistic, unfortunately. Obviously, we would all love to see him get back to where he could compete at the top. Obviously if he is healthy, there is no doubt he can. But I have some major questions as to whether he can. I hope he doesn’t retire any time soon but I don’t see him playing if he at least doesn’t think he can be a factor in a major. That being said, if he can be top 10 in the world he would definitely keep playing in my opinion but if he thinks he can’t do that I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he hung them up. I think he will at least give it this year to see how it plays out.”

“Retirement is always a very sensitive issue and Andy Murray has been one of the best champions in terms of hard work and good work ethic out there,” said Chris Evert, his fellow pundit. “To me when I watch him, I feel like I am in pain. I don’t feel it is the same Andy it was two or three years ago. It sure would help him if he can keep the points shorter.”