IT isn’t too much to ask, is it?

Having committed decades of sweat and toil to become the best tennis player he possibly could be, surely Andy Murray should at least be permitted to decide for himself when to give up the sport, rather than vice versa?

There is, of course, a danger of getting way ahead of ourselves here. All the Scot did yesterday was confirm that his painful hip problem which flared up at Roland Garros last year had failed to recover sufficiently after six months of rest and rehab for him to participate at this month’s Australian Open. After an Antipodean summer which lasted hardly long enough for the jetlag to kick in, he jumped on the first flight back to the UK, pledging to reconsider all options – including surgery – to get back on the match court.

But such a phenomenal shadow has this 30-year-old from Dunblane cast over sport on these islands that

Colin Fleming wasn’t the only man wondering if the prospect of his old friend continuing unhindered into his mid-to late 30s wasn’t something that his army of followers, coaches, team members and assorted hangers-on had all rather taken for granted.

Cue every hip specialist and surgeon worth their salt offering their diagnosis through the news media. “I’ve not been around forever, but in my view he is the best Scottish sports person ever, and probably the greatest British one too,” Fleming told Herald Sport. “And you just get used to him being there.

“It is inevitable that it will come to an end at some stage, but you just don’t want it to be like this,” he added. “You want him to be able to make the decision when it is time to move on to the next stage of his life and his career, not an injury that forces him to stop when he still has ambitions to go on and achieve things in the game.”

The Scot rarely panics in these situations, but even from the other side of the world, you can hardly fail to hear the alarm bells ringing.

Andy might have gone on to triumph at SW19 in 2016, after his back surgery in late 2013, but by his own admission, he doesn’t like the odds of doing likewise following a hip operation this time around. So by all accounts his options, essentially, remain the same as they were after that painful defeat to Sam Querrey at Wimbledon; another portion of extended rest and rehab, undergo keyhole surgery which might alleviate some issues but not others, or go all-in for the hip replacement which would fix the issue once and for all but possibly end or limit his career.

It is quite a choice.

For close friends like Fleming, it has been utterly brutal to see the Scot’s mood fluctuate in the wake of that

6-2 one-set defeat to Spain’s Roberto Bautista-Agut in an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi.

“It is hard to watch him like this,” said the Tennis Scotland national coach. “I saw a bit of his exhibition against Bautista-Agut and although he was obviously quite happy with how it went and obviously took the decision to fly out to Brisbane off the back of it, I thought he obviously wasn’t moving in the way that he used to.

“When he made that decision to go to Brisbane I was really optimistic that there was light at the end of the tunnel for him but he has decided he is not ready and he will know that is the right decision,” he added. “Off the back of his Instagram post as well, you can just tell how he gutted he is about it all and I just hope that he can find a solution.

“Andy has made a career out of finding a way,” added his former doubles partner. “Whenever he has gone on the court, he hasn’t always been playing his best or perhaps feeling his best but more often than not he has found a way to get the job done.

“His dedication, his commitment and passion for the game are second to none but I guess what I am saying is that if there is a way back from this then Andy will find it, because he is so committed to it. He has already achieved so much but I just want him to get back on the court and when his time does come, I want him to make that decision himself, not have it forced upon him due to injury.”

The irony at the heart of it all is the fact that the Scot is most likely experiencing what he is right now because of what he was prepared to put himself through to succeed.

With the likes of Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic around, this isn’t just the greatest era in the history of the sport, it is the most gruelling era in the history of the sport.

“That is just the way the game has evolved,” continued Fleming. “It has become a really gruelling sport. When I was young and just starting to play the game, the likes of Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker were still around, serve and volleyers, quicker courts and shorter points. Ultimately the level of the players from the back of the court just went up and up so people were making balls from the back of the court that they just never used to make.

“The way Andy has always gone about his business, is just about incredible hard work. I haven’t seen him for a few months and I haven’t asked him, but if it all stopped right now I don’t think he would change a thing, because just look at what he has achieved. Let’s hope he can come back from this injury and there are more achievements still to come.”

There will be other attractions besides for Scottish fans at this year’s Australian Open. Andy’s brother Jamie, a former winner of the men’s doubles in Melbourne Park, and his Brazilian partner Bruno Soares, go into the event having continued last season’s form by reaching the final of Qatar. Then there is Ali Collins, a fellow native of Dunblane, and Aidan McHugh, recently signed up by Murray for his 77 Sports Management Company.

This flair for mentorship which the former World No.1 exhibits is manna from heaven for Fleming – even if he would love the Scot to make the recovery he requires to be at the sharp end a while longer.

“Andy is phenomenal at looking out for Scottish and British players and, as we know, other sports as well,” said Fleming. “He has been a huge factor in my own career, not just the weeks when I was lucky enough to play with him. Just to be there to ask an opinion of, and be supportive.

“This is most obvious with Aidan just now, but it is the same with any Scottish player.”