US Open 2017: Rafa Nadal questions 'strange' timing of Andy Murray's withdrawal
In-depth: Rafael Nadal has commented on Andy Murray's late withdrawal from the US Open - but does he have a point? We take a look.
Now new world number one Rafael Nadal has questioned the timing of Murray's announcement.
WHAT DID NADAL ACTUALLY SAY?
" It was a little bit strange that he retired just the morning after the draw was made. It was something that is a little bit strange and difficult to understand. Normally you want to keep practising, keep trying until the last moment. You don’t retire Saturday morning. You retire Monday morning or Sunday afternoon, not Saturday morning. If not, you can do it before the draw."
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
The timing matters to Nadal because Murray was seeded number two for the tournament, meaning they were in different halves of the draw, and would not have met until the final. If Murray had withdrawn before the draw was made, Roger Federer would have been bumped up to second seed; instead, the Swiss and the Spaniard are in the same half of the draw and are on course to meet in the semi-finals.
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DOES NADAL HAVE A POINT?
One can understand him being a touch annoyed - but it's important to note that the main thrust of his comments about Murray was to wish his old pal and rival well, and a quick return to fitness.
" The worst thing is, yeah, he is not healthy, and I wish him a very fast recovery. Injuries are bad for everybody. I know better than all of them. So I wish him [a] fast and good recovery. That’s the most important thing."
HAS MURRAY SAID ANYTHING ABOUT THE TIMING OF HIS DECISION?
Murray hasn't played competitive tennis since he was knocked out of Wimbledon at the start of July. When he withdrew on Saturday, he was very clear: "I obviously spoke to a lot of hip specialists. Tried obviously resting, rehabbing, to try and get myself ready here. I was actually practising OK the last few days, but it's too sore for me to win the tournament, and ultimately, that's what I was here to try and do."
Essentially, he just ran out of time - and anyone who watched his hampered, painful movement as he lost to Sam Querrey in SW19 will doubtless understand his decision.
Great Britain’s Andy Murray reacts during his quarter final match against Sam Querrey of the U.S.Reuters
HAS ANYONE ELSE WITHDRAWN AFTER THE DRAW HAS BEEN MADE?
Yes, plenty - including Nadal himself, who pulled out of Wimbledon in 2009 on the Friday before the tournament started, unable to defend his title because of the pain he was suffering in both knees. He said then: "I think I tried everything; I did my best to arrive at Wimbledon in my very best condition but Hurlingham was the last test and, though I didn't feel terrible I was not close to my best. Nobody is more disappointed than I am."
Well, it's not a happy situation for anyone. Murray wouldn't have withdrawn if he hadn't had to; he would have much preferred to compete in the tournament as second seed and set up that meeting with Nadal in the final if he could. Equally, one can see why both Nadal and Federer might be a bit miffed that the two top-ranked players in the draw might now clash in the semi-final rather than for the title itself - but that's not Murray's fault. In the end, everyone misses out - including the fans, who won't see the best players of their generation in Grand Slam action.