Andy Murray has admitted he's struggling with a hip injury that won't go away. Ralph Ellis fears it could be even more serious for the two-times Wimbledon champ...
"Murray’s odds for Melbourne have zoomed out. Matched at one time at just [3.2] and for decent money at [4.7], you can back him at [30.0] this morning if you believe he’ll be fit. The reality is surely that if he can’t play a warm-up tournament now, he certainly won’t be ready for two weeks of five-set contests in a Grand Slam."
There will doubtless be jelly & ice cream, toys and pools full of those fun plastic balls that toddlers like to jump into and throw around. There will be things to climb, cake, and a wonderful goodie bag for all the other little boys and girls to take home.
Oh yes, when little Sophia Murray has her party to mark her second birthday on February 7th you can be sure it will be a bundle of fun.
It might also be the day that persuades her dad that his tennis career is over. At the age of 30, Andy Murray is facing the biggest decision of his life.
If he puts his body through more torture in the quest to win one more Grand Slam, enjoy one more piece of glory, it could be at the cost of being able to run around and play more games with little Sophia later in his life. I don't know that, but I suspect it may well be the case because it is the heartbreaking decision I've seen other athletes have to face at the end of their career.
Britain's greatest tennis player since the black and white days of Fred Perry has been forced to pull out of the Brisbane International because the hip injury he thought he was getting over has flared again.
He's staying in Australia for a couple of days in the vain hope he might yet find a magical way to be strong enough to compete in the Australian Open when it begins in just 12 days time.
But increasingly it appears his only option to cure the problem - the exact nature of which has not been revealed - is surgery which might well prevent him ever being fit enough to play professional tennis again.
Murray's heartfelt Instagram post yesterday underlined just how tough it is when you've always been fit and strong to find your body is letting you down.
"Every time I wake up from sleeping or napping," he wrote, "I hope that it will be better and it is quite demoralising when you get on the court and it is not at the level you need to be able to compete."
Murray's odds for Melbourne have zoomed out. Matched at one time at just [3.2] and for decent money at [4.7], you can back him at [30.0] this morning if you believe he'll be fit. The reality is surely that if he can't play a warm-up tournament now, he certainly won't be ready for two weeks of five-set contests in a Grand Slam.
In his absence Roger Federer becomes even more of a favourite to retain the title he won last year, now [3.25]. I like more and more my pre-Christmas bet on Alexander Zverev though.
The German was [14.5] then, but has now shortened to [11.5] and has looked good in his appearances at the Hopman Cup where he and a refreshed Angelique Kerber whitewashed Canada 3-0 in their first round.
Murray wants to go on playing. He's made it clear how much he loves his sport, how much he loves competing. It has never been about the money.
It might be a different matter, though, when he gets home to see little Sophia again, and their second baby girl who was born in November. Some things in life count above all else, and your family and your long term health are the most precious possessions of all.