EDDIE Howe hailed tennis star Andy Murray after the former world number one admitted the Australian Open could be his final event as a professional.

A tearful Murray, who has struggled to recover from hip surgery a year ago, is due to face number 22 seed Roberto Bautista Agut in Melbourne next week.

And while the London 2012 gold medallist is hoping to compete at Wimbledon this summer – where he is a two-time champion – he confessed he may be forced to retire before then.

Cherries boss Howe, whose playing career was ended prematurely by injury, said: “It’s incredibly sad when your body doesn’t allow you to do the thing which you love.

“For someone so talented who is probably in the prime of his career, it’s very sad.

“For me, it was one of the hardest things to mentally get round and understand. I’m sure it’s the same for Andy.

“I would like to pay tribute to what he’s given British sport and British tennis – a huge amount of success and dedication to his sport and he has always handled himself really well.”