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Heartbreak and disbelief as Murray announces retirement

AFP  |  Melbourne 

ace Andy Murray's tearful announcement Friday that he'll be forced to retire this year prompted a of tributes to the man, fond recollections of a historic career and encouragement to up a fitting farewell.

American star led the tributes to the former world number one, describing his 11-time opponent as an "absolute legend" who is on the "short list of best tacticians" in the history of the sport.

"Unreal results in a brutal era. Nothing but respect here. I hope he can finish strong and healthy," he said.

Murray's failure to recover from a has put his dream to win next week's almost beyond reach.

Such is the level of that there is speculation he may not be able to go the distance, much less set up a dream farewell at this July.

Argentina's -- who fell short against Murray in a memorable 2016 Olympic gold medal game -- urged him not to throw in the towel.

"Andy, just watched your conference. Please don't stop trying. Keep fighting," he wrote.

"I can imagine your and sadness. I hope you can overcome this. You deserve to retire on your own terms, whenever that happens. We love you @andy_murray and we want to see you happy and doing well."

The sentiment was echoed by tennis' women stars, who Murray championed -- famously rebuking a for glossing over American greats like arguing for equal billing on the centre courts.

Indian star dubbed him her "foreverfavourite" and a "#foreverachampion".

Legend Billie Jean King declared him a "champion on and off the court".

"Your greatest impact on the world may be yet to come. Your voice for equality will inspire future generations."

That sentiment was echoed by Belgian four-time major winner Kim Clijsters, who like many could not help but be moved by Murray's emotional announcement.

"My heart breaks listening to @andy_murray during his press conference," she tweeted.

It is in his native Britain that the announcement will be perhaps most keenly felt.

Murray's status as the greatest British male in several generations meant he carried the expectations of a nation onto the court. By meeting them, his impact transcended

Many hoped he can muster the strength and fitness to return to the Club -- where he twice won in fairytale fashion -- for a career finale.

"He deserves his moment to say goodbye at He's too important to Great Britain and history to not have it," said Roddick.

"He just needs to play any match for the goodbye he deserves." US captain pointed to Murray's famous determination, which helped him compete against stronger and more skilled players.

"The @andy_murray that I know will absolutely make it to Wimbledon to play his final tournament," he tweeted.

"Not many with more heart, effort in the history of the game. Was always a pleasure to share the court pal.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, January 11 2019. 16:00 IST