Andy Murray announced that he would not partake [VIDEO] in the 2017 US Open earlier this weekend. The problem is his hip injury, one that can be traced back to the 2017 French Open. Hip surgery has been mentioned here and there as an option over the last little while, but the topic has taken on new tolls following Murray's withdrawal from Flushing Meadows. Kevin Mitchell, writing in The Guardian on August 27 for instance, wrote that "Andy Murray is seriously considering having surgery for the second time in four years to rescue his career after nagging hip pain forced his late exit from the US Open."

Murray had back surgery toward the end of 2013, at a time in his career when he was 26 years old.

He would fall out of the top ten in 2014 before rising back up in 2015 and ultimately peaking at No. 1 in late 2016 following a title at Wimbledon and a major late-season push. If Murray has hip surgery then the recovery time may, in fact, cost him the balance of the season as well as the opening Grand Slam of 2018.

Specialist mentioned six-month timeline

It seems that the timeline will depend on what kind of surgery Murray opts for, if any. Giles Stafford, a hip specialist professionally involved in sports injuries, claimed back in mid-July that "If he decides he wanted to go forward for keyhole surgery, he might be out for six months. If he decides he's going to try and be as conservative as possible, then he'll probably just need a month or two's rest and then he might be playing again in a couple of months" (Stafford qtd.

at Sky Sports).

Two months have not quite passed since those comments were cited, but the lower range of the given timeline has expired and Murray is not back playing. If Murray has surgery and six months is needed to complete a comeback then that would mean late February of 2018 from the present time. Of course, that timeline would easily take the 2018 Australian Open out of the picture. a tournament scheduled for January.

Comeback would be more difficult this time

But what's important to note is that a return date to tennis doesn't always mean returning and playing well. Rustiness and getting back to top-level fitness is a different matter than merely being able to contest matches. Last time Murray returned from surgery it took several months before he was back to himself. This time around he would be in his early 30s and facing a comeback.

Nick Kyrgios, Grigor Dimitrov, Dominic Thiem, Denis Shapovalov, and Alexander Zverev are all emerging as the new faces of big matches on tour. They won't be as lenient with Murray in the future as players were in the British player's younger days. Murray is certainly at a crossroads right now and it will be interesting to see which way his career goes in the weeks ahead and then in the year that follows.