Andy Murray to miss ATP Cup and Australian Open with injury
Berrettini and Pouille join Federer, Wawrinka and Murray in missing inaugural ATP Cup
Andy Murray’s hopes of returning to play at the Australian Open 12 months after what appeared to be his last appearance in Melbourne have been dashed after he was forced pull out of his first Major singles draw since his tearful exit from Australia a year ago.
In a statement reported on the Australian Open’s website, Murray said:
“Unfortunately, I’ve had a setback, and as a precaution need to work through that before competing.
“I’ve worked so hard to get myself into a situation where I can play at the top level and I’m gutted I’m not going to be able to play.
“After the Australian Open earlier this year, when I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to play again, I was excited about coming back to Australia and giving my best, and that makes this even more disappointing for me.”
It promised to be a very emotional return to Australia for Murray, where it looked, 12 months back, as though his career was over following more than a year of battling hip pain and then unsuccessful surgery. Since then, further hip surgery transformed him, and after a successful foray into doubles—he and Feliciano Lopez won the Queen’s title in June—he got some important singles wins under his belt in China and went on to win in Antwerp.
The Belgian title was Murray’s first in almost three years—indeed his first final since the start of 2017—and he severely tested his fitness along the way with three three-setters in the quarters, semis and finals, twice coming back from a set down, and beating current No16 Stan Wawrinka in the title bout.
He then won his only match during the new-format round-robin phase of the Davis Cup in Madrid in November, an arduous three-setter against the lowly ranked Dutchman, No179 Tallon Griekspoor. The Briton afterwards admitted that he was not yet back to his ‘fighting weight’ after gaining kilos while taking time off in the aftermath of the birth of his son.
But he subsequently delayed his usual off-season training block in Miami to nurse a groin injury, and has now taken the precaution of delaying his return to the main tour until after the Australian Open swing—currently scheduled to be in Montpellier and Rotterdam.
Murray was due to return to action at the Sydney leg of the new ATP Cup, which gets underway across three cities in Australia on 3 January. He headlined the GB team with Dan Evans and Cameron Norrie, plus doubles experts Joe Salisbury and Jamie Murray. Now James Ward will fill the third singles slot.
For the Sydney fans who were originally expecting to see Murray’s GB squad take on Roger Federer’s Switzerland, it is a second blow. Federer withdrew a few weeks ago—and Wawrinka did not commit to the tournament in the first place—so the highly-anticipated showdown between the two multiple Major champions Murray and Federer was already scrubbed from the schedule. With Murray’s withdrawal, the highest ranked players in Group C are Belgium’s David Goffin and Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov.
World No8, the Italian Matteo Berrettini, and Frenchman Lucas Pouille, world No22, have also withdrawn from the ATP Cup [and the Australian Open] and No13 Kei Nishikori must also be in doubt when Japan begins its campaign in Perth in a few days’ time, after he pulled out of his only preparatory event, the non-tour Hawaii Open, this week. Nishikori has not played since the US Open and had elbow surgery in late October.
· ATP Cup will be held in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney for the round-robin group stages from Friday 3 to Wednesday 8 January. The successful eight nations from an original 24 will converge on Sydney for the knockout quarters, semis and finals, concluding on Sunday 12 January.
· The Australian Open runs from 20 January to 3 February in Melbourne.