ANDY Murray is set to compete in the Australian Open next January, according to the tournament director.

The Scot has been sidelined since limping out of Wimbledon with a hip injury in July and, although he has not officially confirmed it, he is unlikely to play again this year.

But tournament director Craig Tiley says Murray will be among a host of top stars returning to grand slam tennis in the new year, along with Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori.

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Djokovic has also not played since Wimbledon due to an elbow injury, Wawrinka and Nishikori have been missing since the summer with respective knee and wrist problems, while Williams appears set to return to Melbourne Park to defend the 2017 title she won while eight weeks pregnant with her first child. The 23-time grand slam champion gave birth in early September but could be back in Melbourne.

“I’m very happy to confirm that all the top players will be back in Melbourne in January,” Tiley said at the tournament’s launch, streamed on Twitter.

“On the men’s side, there has been a lot of concern and conjecture around Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Kei Nishikori.

“I can tell you that in talking to Andy, he has been training and is preparing for a great year in 2018.

“How much would this year have hurt him, to watch over the entire year Roger and Rafa share four grand slam titles – he would not have liked that.

“As competitive as Andy is, we know he’s back and he’ll want to improve his current ranking of number three in the world and getting back to number one.”

Murray hobbled through to the quarter-finals at SW19 having suffered a hip problem at the French Open but finally succumbed to Sam Querrey.

He had hoped to return to action for the US Open in August but pulled out 48 hours before the tournament started and also skipped the Asian swing of the ATP Tour.

Meanwhile, Nick Kyrgios has blamed a stomach bug for his mid-match retirement at the Shanghai Masters.

The Australian caused controversy at the tournament for the second straight year by walking off the court after losing the first set of his opening round match against Steve Johnson.

But the 22-year-old blamed illness in explaining his sudden departure, saying on Twitter: “I’ve been battling a stomach bug for the last 24 hours and I tried to be ready but I was really struggling on the court today, which I think was pretty evident from the first point.”