Washington | Murray withdraws from Washington and Toronto
An exhausted Andy Murray withdrew from the Citi Open in Washington DC following his third round win to give his quarter final opponent, 19-year-old Alex De Minaur a welcome walk-over into the semi-finals.
On announcing his withdrawal, Murray criticised the organisers for pushing the players in order to make up time lost to a number of rain interruptions during the week. His third round match had in fact been delayed by four hours because of rain.
"I'm exhausted after playing so much over the last four days, having not competed on the hard courts for 18 months," the former world No.1 Murray said. "I also need to be careful and to listen to my body as I come back from a long-term injury." Andy Murray
For Murray that meant going on court at midnight local time on Thursday for a match which not only proved a tough contest against Romanian Marius Copil, but didn’t finish until 3.02 am Friday, the latest finish in the Washington event’s 50-year history!
For a player who has only just returned to competitive play following hip surgery last January, this proved too much bearing in mind it was his third gruelling three-set contest keeping him on court for more than eight hours. He had in fact played three of the week’s four longest matches, following a two-hour and 37-minute match against Mackenzie McDonald and two hours and 32-minutes against Kyle Edmund in the second round prior.
His 6-7(5) 6-3 7-6(4) victory left him seated at his chair crying into his towel for several minutes as the small crowd drifted away. Once he got up to leave the court he did find time to sign a few autographs but it was evident that his body had had enough for one day considering he was expected to play again later that day.
Having announced his withdrawal, he also revealed he was withdrawing from next week’s Masters 1000 Rogers Cup in Toronto so his next appearance is now scheduled for the Cincinnati Masters 1000 starting August 13.
“I’m exhausted after playing so much over the last four days, having not competed on the hard courts for 18 months,” the former world No.1 Murray said.
“I also need to be careful and to listen to my body as I come back from a long-term injury.”
Murray, whose last prior hardcourt appearance was in March 2017 at Indian Wells, has played only two grasscourt events in his comeback prior to arriving in the American capital.
“I’ve played quite a few matches this week in Washington and I need to be smart with my rest and recovery as I come back from injury,” Murray said.
“I don’t think I should be put in a position like that,” he added. “(My body) doesn’t feel great right now.”
The Scotsman then went on to criticise the organisers. “Finishing matches at three in the morning isn’t good for anyone involved in the event, players, TV, fans, anyone. When you’re expected to come back and perform the next day, I think that’s unreasonable and I’m disappointed in that. I know that the weather’s tricky—I know it is—for the scheduling. But it’s a very difficult position to be in when you’re coming back from such a long layoff.”
At the time he intimated he would be considering withdrawing, adding in the pre-dawn hours: “I don’t know how players are expected to recover. It’s a very difficult position to be coming back from a long injury to be finishing matches at 03:00 in the morning.”
Asked about his weeping into the towel after the match, Murray simply described the moment as “just the emotions coming at the end of an extremely long day and a long match.”
In a later statement released by the event, the 31-year-old Brit expressed more disappointment at being unable to continue.
“I’m gutted not to be playing and I’d like to thank the tournament and all the fans,” he said. “There are lots of positives to take from this week, so I’ll take some time to rest and recover and then head to Cincinnati early to prepare and get ready.”
Tournament director Keely O’Brien had told the Washington Post she wanted Murray to play, citing his role model status.
“Certainly if he can’t play because of his injury, that’s one thing. But he’s a fighter, and he doesn’t give up, and he needs to have everyone see that,” she told the paper before his announcement. But on release of his decision, she said she expected Murray would return next year.
“I am so grateful that Andy, an incredible champion, came back to DC to begin what we all know will be a great comeback,” she said.
“I sincerely respect his decision and know that his health and recovery process is his top priority, as it should be.”