Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has pulled out of the Australian Open to become the first of the big four to miss the first Grand Slam of the year.

The Scot has not played competitively since ending his 2017 campaign following his loss in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last year owing to a long-standing hip injury. He was expected to return at the start of the 2018 campaign, but is yet to recover fully.

Murray replaced Novak Djokovic at the exhibition event in Abu Dhabi – the Mubadala World Tennis Championships – at the end of the December, where he lost a one-set match against Robert Bautista Agut. The 31-year-old was hoping to begin his 2018 campaign at the Brisbane International in preparation for the Australian Open.

The British No.1 first pulled out of the event in east Australia and has now confirmed that he will not be present at the first major of the year in Melbourne. Murray recently penned an emotional post on his official Instagram account stating the nature of his injury and how he could undergo surgery as the last resort to treat his injury.

The two-time Olympic gold medal winner will fly back home from Australia where he will have his injury assessed before the next step is taken. Murray hopes to return to action at the earliest and thanked everyone for the messages of support.

"Sadly I won't be playing in Melbourne this year, as I am not yet ready to compete," Murray said, as quoted by the Telegraph.

"I'll be flying home shortly to assess all the options but I appreciate all the messages of support and I hope to be back playing soon," the Scot added.

The Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley was understanding of Murray's decision to pull out and wished the former world number one a speedy recovery.

"We are fully aware that Andy has been going through a difficult period with his hip and that he's done everything possible to prepare for the Australian summer," Tiley said.

"Personally, I also know that Andy loves tennis and would do anything to play. This is a very hard decision for Andy and we totally respect it.

"We wish him the absolute best on his road to recovery and look forward to having him back in Melbourne. He is a true champion and one of our favourites," he added.

Rafael Nadal, meanwhile, has provided a positive update on his comeback and gave the clearest indication that he will be fit for the Australian Open. The 2017 finalist and the current world number one posted a picture of him in the airport traveling to Melbourne with the comment: "on my way," via his official Instagram page.

The Spaniard, who suffered a knee injury at the end of the 2017 campaign, was also supposed to get his 2018 campaign underway in Brisbane, but pulled out as he has yet to recover fully. Nadal has to defend 1000-points in Melbourne having lost the final to Roger Federer last year and he will be keen to have a good run yet again.

Camino de #Melbourne #australianopen on my way

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