Andy Murray has long said he sees his long-term future in, among other things, the business of management and mentorship of athletes.
That has an ironic feel to it at a time when he has never looked more in need of strong guidance and sound advice himself.
Murray is due to land back in the UK on Friday after an ill-fated, ill-advised trip back and forth across the world for which he was clearly not fit enough, and which he seemed to be making up on the hoof.
Andy Murray has formally abandoned his hopes of playing in the Australian Open this month
The 30-year-old Scot had caught a flight to Melbourne on his route back to the UK
His attempts to play again have smacked of desperation and you feel for him — this wonderfully gifted player, supreme professional and decent man reduced to aimless wanderer by anxiety over his creaking hip.
It came to a predictable end when, having failed to turn up for a media appointment in Brisbane, it emerged that he was heading home via Melbourne, where the Australian Open will start a week on Monday without him.
If any good is to come of this then you hope the experience will lead him to make the correct decision about how to proceed with tackling his injury, whether that involves surgery or not.
The way the last month has gone does not fill you with confidence. He came home early from his training block in Miami, then made a late decision after Christmas to fly to an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi.
That led to a late decision to play a public practice set, in which his movement was often laboured, before he dashed for a flight to Brisbane.
Here, he pulled out on Tuesday after the draw had been made, although he had managed two practice sessions.
Murray pulled out of Brisbane Invitational and admitted surgery is becoming a viable option
Thursday involved more last-minute calls, which even seemed to blindside his management company.
A request was made to the event transport office for a car to the airport and Murray was off. A fog now seems to have descended on what used to be the most singular mind, as was shown by his emotional outpourings via Instagram this week.
His Melbourne withdrawal yesterday was far more sanitised. ‘Sadly I won’t be playing in Melbourne this year, as I am not yet ready to compete,’ Murray said in a statement. ‘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.’
‘I am not yet ready to compete,’ said the 30-year-old of his decision to withdraw from the Slam
Who does Murray turn to now to sift through the plethora of medical opinion he has received about his hip?
Ivan Lendl has departed, and had become increasingly detached over the past 12 months when physical problems set in (Murray had shingles and an elbow problem before the hip issue surfaced).
He has a loyal and dedicated support team, who are believed not to have been in favour of his similarly ill-fated decision to try to come back at the US Open.
The ill-fated trip to Australia may be what convinces him that an operation may be best
Murray has been making the decisions himself — as he is entitled to do — but six months on from him limping out of Wimbledon any progress has, clearly, been limited. As someone who knows him well reflected yesterday, being headstrong has been a huge asset for his tennis in many ways, but it is not necessarily conducive to accepting wise counsel when it comes to thinking strategically.
A fork in the road has been reached where he has to decide whether to continue with the arduous rehab process that is yet to yield the results he wants, or to have an operation that is not without risk.
If Murray had an operation he would, even if it was successful, not be back until late in the season and it would amount to more than a year out of the game after he has turned 31.
He misses the Australian Open for the first time since 2005.
A year ago this weekend he participated in an epic final of the Qatar Open against Novak Djokovic, which only fuelled expectations of what would come in the season. Now it looks like he has run himself, almost literally, to a standstill.
Murray joins Japan’s Kei Nishikori as a high-profile absentee from the Melbourne tournament
Kyle Edmund provided a shaft of light when he beat highly-rated young Korean Hyeon Chung