Andy Murray must prove his ability to US Open later this month after withdrawing from a second consecutive tournament in the United States.
His quest to earn a top seed at a major tournament therefore failed again, with the obstacle this time abdominal tension forcing him to withdraw from the Cincinnati Masters.
Murray has spent the past two seasons trying to earn a place in the elite group of the world’s top 32 players, who are guaranteed a protected spot in the draw for all four Grand Slams. But every time he gets close to that magic point in the standings, he seems to come up against an awkward first-round opponent or a troublesome injury.
On the other hand, this latest setback does not seem serious enough to prevent Murray from participating in the US Open, which begins in just under a fortnight in New York. He said it resembled the injury he suffered in Stuttgart last summer which disrupted his preparation for Wimbledon 2022 without preventing him from playing in SW19.
But Murray’s inactivity this week leaves him stuck at No. 37 in the live standings, when a few wins in Cincinnati would have taken him past the key milestone. Such continued bad luck must be hard to swallow, especially after he played hard enough in the previous Masters 1000 in Toronto to reach the last 16.
Murray’s two wins in Toronto, over Lorenzo Sonego and Max Purcell respectively, marked his first consecutive wins on the ATP Tour since Indian Wells five months ago. But he then withdrew from the tournament shortly before his scheduled third-round meeting with eventual champion Jannik Sinner.