LONDON (AFP) – Wimbledon champion Andy Murray is unlikely to play again this season after pulling out of next week's Thailand Open to undergo minor back surgery.
Murray has been bothered by a disc problem in his lower back for much of this year and he opted to skip the French Open to rest the injury before he went on to claim a maiden Wimbledon title.
"Next week, Andy is set to undergo minor back surgery in an effort to clear up a long-standing back problem," a statement from 77, Murray's management company, read.
"The issue flared up again during the Rome Masters this year when Andy was forced to retire and he sought advice from a range of specialists in May.
"After a successful return on the more forgiving grass courts, Andy enjoyed success at Queen's and Wimbledon, but after recently playing on hard-courts and clay, Andy once again sought medical advice about solving the issue once and for all.
"The aim is to be fully fit for the new season."
Earlier this month, Murray looked well below his best at the US Open when his defence of the title was ended by a straight-sets defeat to Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarter-finals.
The 26-year-old returned to action to help Britain back into the Davis Cup World Group with victory over Croatia last weekend.
But Murray's decision to undergo surgery next week is likely to rule him out of the last months of the campaign, including the prestigious World Tour Finals in London in November.
Murray's injury flared up badly in May during the Rome Masters, prompting him to abandon a second-round match against Marcel Granollers and pull out of Roland Garros.
The disc problem affects a nerve in Murray's lower back which can send pain shooting down his hip and upper leg.
It appears to cause him more problems when he plays on clay and the harder surfaces than on grass courts.
The Scot and his team have carefully dealt with the complaint since then and he showed no signs of the problem when he finally ended the long wait for a British male winner of the Wimbledon singles title by dispatching world number one Novak Djokovic in the final.
But the strain has eventually taken its toll towards the end of a memorable year and the Scot now hopes the surgery will allow him to be fully fit in time for the start of the 2014 campaign.
Murray had been scheduled to play three more events in Asia this season, including the Shanghai Masters, then the Paris Masters and the season-ending World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena.
Providing the operation goes well, Murray should be ready to feature in 2014's first Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January, before returning to Davis Cup duty at the end of the month when Great Britain face the United States.