MELBOURNE: Five-time finalist Andy Murray said Monday there was a "definite possibility" that he has played his final Australian Open after slumping out at the first hurdle.
The 36-year-old put up stiff resistance in a 61-minute first set against Argentine Tomas Martin Etcheverry, but the 30th seed slowly ground him down to win 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.
Murray had a frustrating end to 2023, winning just one match in his last four tournaments, and said previously that unless his form picked up the curtain could be coming down on his career.
"Yeah, it's a definite possibility that will be the last time I play here," he said.
"In comparison to the matches that I played here last year, it's the complete opposite feeling walking off the court. Wish I involved the crowd more. Just disappointed with the way I played. Tough, tough way to finish."
The British player, who won Wimbledon in 2013 and 2016 and also took the US Open title in 2012, is part of a golden generation coming towards the end of trophy-laden careers.
Roger Federer retired in 2022 and Rafael Nadal had an injury-blighted 2023 and is absent from the Australian Open with a muscle tear.
At 36, Djokovic is still hoping to add to his record haul of 24 Grand Slam titles before hanging up his racquet.
Murray said he had spoken to his family and coaching staff about when he might quit.
"They're very aware of how I feel about things, where I would like to finish playing, when that would be," he said.
"I haven't made any definite decisions on that. Yeah, it's obviously something that I need to think about and see exactly when that is.
"It's not like it hasn't been something that's been on my mind."
He added that the time frame on when he will retire "narrows when you play and have results like today".
"I haven't gained in belief from today's match that at some stage I'm going to start playing really well again or winning tournaments or getting to the latter stages of major events."
Etcheverry, 12 years younger than his opponent, said Murray was one of his idols.
"Very tough for me playing with a legend like Andy," he said. "I just tried to play my game and focus on my points."
Murray's defeat deprived fans of a potential third-round clash against defending champion Djokovic.
To have a chance of facing the top seed, Etcheverry, who reached the French Open quarter-finals last year, must first get past another veteran, Frenchman Gael Monfils.