Andy Murray on Monday will have what his team is calling "minor" surgery to address a lower-back problem that has lingered for almost two years. The reportedly non-invasive surgery puts the remainder of his 2013 season at risk.
British reports indicate that Murray's goal is to be fit in time for his annual winter training block in Miami in December and be fully ready for the Australian Open, which begins Jan. 13.
"Thanks so much for all the nice messages today," Murray tweeted. "Ill [sic] be 'back' stronger."
Though Murray has publicly remained quiet about the specifics of his back woes, the BBC reports that the problem is focused on a disc that affects a nerve in his lower back that can send shooting pain down his hip and upper leg. The surgery rules him out for the Asian swing -- his camp told The Guardian in a statement that Murray "will definitely miss" tournaments in Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai -- and makes him doubtful for the ATP World Tour Finals in London, though he has not completely ruled it out.
Ranked No. 3, Murray had 1,270 points to defend through the end of the season after making the final of the Shanghai Masters and semifinals of the Japan Open and ATP World Tour Finals last year. Murray will lose 780 points for skipping the Asian swing, meaning David Ferrer will take his No. 3 ranking.
Ferrer, who made the French Open final against Rafael Nadal this year, has 1,900 points to defend after Shanghai -- he won Valencia and the Paris Indoor Masters last year and made the semifinals of the ATP World Tour Finals. Even if Murray skips London, it will take a monumental effort for Ferrer to remain at No. 3.
Murray's back problems forced him to retire from a match at the Italian Open this spring and then skip the French Open. He bounced back to go undefeated on grass, winning the Aegon Championships and claiming his historic title at Wimbledon. But since Wimbledon Murray has failed to make it past the quarterfinals of three tournaments, including the U.S. Open, where as the defending champion he lost in straight sets to Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarterfinals. He has reportedly been managing his back pain with painkillers, but after consulting with specialists, he'll try to fix the problem once and for all.