Former world number one Andy Murray has conceded he may need to have surgery after being forced to withdraw from the Brisbane International.
The Scot is still struggling with a long-term hip injury and he has not played since July.
That lack of action has seen him drop down to 16th in the world rankings and he is now considering his options.
Murray had been given a bye to the last 16 in Brisbane and he was set to play American Ryan Harrison on Thursday.
The 30-year-old had been hoping to win the tournament for the third time but he now returns to the treatment table.
In a statement he said: “It’s quite demoralising that when you get on the court it’s not at the level you need it to be to compete at this level. It’s really hurting inside.
“I’m very disappointed to be withdrawing. I came here with every intention of making a strong start to the year.”
The two-time Wimbledon champion then revealed on Instagram that surgery may be considered but his chances of playing in the Australian Open now appear slim.
The event starts in Melbourne on January 15 and Murray is now looking at the option to fly home and have surgery.
Switzerland’s Roger Federer is the 3.10 favourite to win in Melbourne, while last year’s winner Rafael Nadal is priced at 5.00 despite having fitness woes of his own.
Serbian Novak Djokovic is also struggling with an elbow problem but he can be backed at odds of 5.25 to win the tournament.