Andy Murray out of U.S. Open with hip injury

AP Images
1 Comment

NEW YORK — His voice choking, Andy Murray unexpectedly announced Saturday that he was withdrawing from the U.S. Open because of a hip injury, adding to the lengthy list of top players who will miss the year’s last Grand Slam tournament.

Murray was seeded No. 2 at Flushing Meadows, where play begins Monday.

“Did pretty much everything that I could to get myself ready here and took a number of weeks off after Wimbledon. I obviously spoke to a lot of hip specialists. Tried obviously resting, rehabbing, to try and get myself ready here,” said Murray, who won the 2012 U.S. Open for the first of his three major championships.

“Was actually practicing OK the last few days,” he added, “but it’s too sore for me to win the tournament. And ultimately, that’s what I was here to try and do.”

Murray, who yielded the No. 1 ranking to Rafael Nadal this week, has not played a match since July 12 at Wimbledon, where he was the defending champion and clearly was hampered by his hip during a five-set quarterfinal loss to Sam Querrey.

The 30-year-old from Britain revealed during a news conference at the U.S. Open site Saturday that the hip first bothered him during his semifinal loss to Stan Wawrinka at the French Open in June.

Murray said he will decide in the “next couple of days” whether to end his season because of the injury.

He has dealt with hip problems off and on for years, but not to the point where it forced him off the tour for an extended absence.

“I certainly wouldn’t have been hurting myself more by trying to play. It was more a question of whether it would settle down in time,” Murray said. “Obviously I kind of ran out of time.”

Murray’s exit from the U.S. Open further depletes an event that already was missing three of last year’s four men’s semifinalists, including 2016 champion Wawrinka, runner-up Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori.

Three-time major champion Wawrinka recently had surgery on his left knee, 12-time major champion Djokovic has a bad right elbow and 2014 U.S. Open runner-up Nishikori has an injured right wrist. All three have said they are done for the year.

Add in 2016 Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic, who has a problem with his left wrist, and Murray, and now five of the top 11 men in this week’s ATP rankings will be absent.

That leaves No. 1 seed Nadal and No. 3 Roger Federer – who has been dealing with a bad back himself – as the two clear favorites for the men’s trophy. They were drawn Friday into the same half of the bracket, meaning they could only meet in the semifinals in New York.

“Obviously there has been a lot of players with injuries this year,” Murray said. “Look, I want to be back on court as soon as I can. If it means that I can play before the end of the year, then that’s what I would love to do. I miss competing, and I’ll try to get myself back on court as soon as I can.”

If Murray had pulled out of the field anytime before the draw was conducted Thursday, then Federer would have moved up to the No. 2 seeding and automatically would be in the bottom half of the bracket, setting up the possibility of a final between him and Nadal.

Instead, Federer stays where he is at No. 3.

No. 5 Marin Cilic, the 2014 champion, shifts to Murray’s slot in the bracket and takes on the man who was supposed to face Murray in the first round, Tennys Sandgren of the United States. Under Grand Slam rules, the man seeded 17th – in this case Querrey – moves to Cilic’s vacated spot and will play Gilles Simon of France. Querrey’s old line in the draw gets filled by the highest-ranked man who was not seeded originally, Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany; he becomes seed No. 33 and plays qualifier Tim Smyczek of the U.S.

Lukas Lacko of Slovakia, who lost in qualifying, gets into the 128-man field as a “lucky loser,” replacing Murray. Lacko will play Benoit Paire of France.

French players get life bans for fixing

Getty Images
0 Comments

LONDON — Two low-ranked French players were banned from the sport for life after being found guilty of match-fixing by a hearing officer.

Jules Okala, a 25-year-old with a career-best ATP ranking of No. 338, and Mick Lescure, a 29-year-old with a top ranking of No. 487, “admitted multiple charges,” the International Tennis Integrity Agency announced.

Neither player is allowed to compete at – or even attend – any sanctioned event again.

Okala was found guilty of seven match-fixing charges and fined $15,000 in addition to the permanent suspension. Lescure was found guilty of eight charges and fined $40,000 on top of the ban.

The punishments come after both players were involved in law enforcement investigations in France and Belgium, according to the sport’s integrity agency.

Ash Barty wins Australia’s top sports award for second time

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

MELBOURNE, Australia — Ash Barty’s Australian Open singles title in January was enough to ensure the former top-ranked player won Australia’s most prestigious annual sports award — despite retiring from the game less than two months later.

Barty has been given The Don Award, named after its most accomplished and famous cricketer Don Bradman.

Barty shocked the tennis world in March when she announced her retirement at the age of 25. The three-time major winner was the No. 1-ranked female player at the time of her retirement decision.

The Sport Australia Hall of Fame’s Don Award is given to an athlete or a team “which has provided the most inspiration to the country through performance and example in the past year.”

Barty (2019, 2022) joins Olympic gold medal-winning hurdler Sally Pearson (2012, 2014) and Olympic champion pole vaulter Steve Hooker (2008, 2009) as a multiple winner of the award.

Barty said she had decided before the Australian Open started that it would be her last major tournament.

“This year was certainly my most enjoyable Australian Open . . . because it felt free,” Barty said in a television interview. “I played without consequence, I played like a little kid. In my eyes, there was no pressure. It was just about me trying to redeem myself, in a way, and playing how I’d always wanted to play – go out there and play like the kid that fell in love with sport.”

Barty said she has no plans to return to tennis.

“In my mind there was never going to be a perfect ending, but it was my perfect ending,” Barty said of her retirement. “It was never about finishing on a win or on a really high emotional feeling. It was just about collectively, I felt it was right.

“Now (that decision) has led to nine months of just an incredible life off the court. It’s been amazing.”

Barty married her long-time partner Garry Kissick in late July. She also golfs frequently and is reported to be playing off a handicap of low single figures.