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Murray withdraws, Muguruza retires at Brisbane International

Spanish tennis player Garbine Muguruza competing at Roland Garros in Paris in 2017. Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

Two of tennis’s top stars suffered setbacks in their first matches of the year on Tuesday, with Garbine Muguruza succumbing to leg cramps and Andy Murray raising the possibility of surgery to deal with a persistent hip complaint.

Murray’s hip problems have kept the former world number one on the sidelines since July and continued to dog the Scotsman on Tuesday, forcing him to withdraw from the tournament in Brisbane.

“I’ve obviously been going through a really difficult period with my hip for a long time and have sought council from a number of hip specialists,” Murray wrote in a message on Instagram.

“Obviously continuing rehab is one option and giving my hip more time to recover. Surgery is also an option but the chances of a successful outcome are not as high as I would like which has made this my secondary option and my hope has been to avoid that.”

Murray had been seeded number two in Brisbane, where he’d been expecting to play his first competitive match since a quarterfinal loss at Wimbledon.

He became the second men’s star player to pull out of the tournament after top seed Rafael Nadal did so late last week.

Collapse in heavy heat

Also in Brisbane, women’s world number two Garbine Muguruza abandoned her first match of the year after collapsing due to leg cramps.

The Spaniard had been leading 2-1 against Alekandra Krunic of Serbia when she succumbed to cramps after dealing a serve in the third set.

“I felt in trouble in the second set when I was 2-0 up,” the Wimbledon champion told reporters after the match. “I started to feel my calves were cramping. I continued to think with the match they might go away and then they were increasing.”

Muguruza suggested the 30°C heat and heavy humidity had a role to play in the collapse.

“Normally I cramp very few times but I do remember that the last time I cramped was actually in Melbourne,” she said. “Maybe it's the hot, maybe it's the conditions, I don't know, but it's not very often in me.”

The early exit costs Muguruza a chance to replace Romania’s Simona Halep at the top of world rankings ahead of this month’s Australian Open.

Elsewhere in the tournament, Alize Cornet of France and Johanna Konta of Britain both advanced to quarter-finals with respective wins over Marjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia and local hope Ajla Tomljanovic, respectively.