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Rediff.com  » Sports » Tennis round-up: Murray, Nishikori pull out of Australian Open

Tennis round-up: Murray, Nishikori pull out of Australian Open

Last updated on: January 04, 2018 14:27 IST

Andy Murray of Great Britain speaks to the media

IMAGE: Briton Andy Murray withdrew from the opening Grand Slam of the year citing hip injury. Photograph: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Former World No 1 Andy Murray has pulled out of the Australian Open after failing to recover from a hip injury, tournament organisers said on Thursday.

 

The three-time grand slam winner has not played a competitive match since a Wimbledon quarter-final loss last July and despite coming through a one-set exhibition in Abu Dhabi last week, the Briton has decided to focus on rehabilitation.

"Sadly I won't be playing in Melbourne this year, as I am not yet ready to compete," Murray, a five-time Australian Open runner-up, said in a statement.

"I'll be flying home shortly to assess all the options but I appreciate all the messages of support and I hope to be back playing soon."

Earlier in the day, Japan's Kei Nishikori has pulled out of this month's Australian Open as he continues to recover from a wrist injury, the world number 22 said on Wednesday.

The former US Open finalist, who last year reached the fourth round of the first grand slam of the season in Melbourne, has been sidelined since August and said he still could not handle playing best-of-five-set matches.

"The Aussie Open is my favorite slam... it's my 'home' slam ... and it hurts that I will have to miss it this year," Nishikori, 28, said in a statement posted on his website.

"My rehab is going well but I am just not ready 100 percent to come back yet in best-of-five-set matches."

Nishikori was ninth in the world rankings before sustaining a season-ending wrist injury ahead of the Cincinnati Masters last August.

He had been hoping to make his return at the season-opening Brisbane International, where he was runner-up in 2017, but withdrew from that event 11 days ago.

Nishikori became the first Japanese man to reach a grand slam final at the 2014 US Open but did not compete at Flushing Meadows last year because of his injury.

The Australian Open will be played from January 15-28.

Svitolina in Brisbane semis after Konta's injury pullout

Elina Svitolina entered the Brisbane International semi-finals after her opponent Johanna Konta retired with a hip injury during the third set of the quarter-final contest on Thursday.

World number nine Konta, who had made slow starts in her previous two matches at the Pat Rafter Arena, claimed the first set 6-1 but lost momentum in the next as Svitolina grew in confidence to level the contest at 1-1 after a tiebreak.

The Briton called for an injury timeout to treat her right hip ahead of the decider but was unable to continue despite holding serve for two games to hand Svitolina victory.

"I don't feel too comfortable saying really too much because, actually, I don't know yet until tomorrow morning," Konta said after the match. "Hopefully it's nothing more than a low-grade strain and more muscle spasm more than anything."

Third seed Svitolina next plays the winner of the clash between defending champion Karolina Pliskova and 2012 winner Kaia Kanepi.

Aliaksandra Sasnovich came from behind to dump out France's Alize Cornet 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova plays Aleksandra Krunic in the other quarter-final.

No wildcard for Tomic at Australian Open

Bernard Tomic is set to sit out the Australian Open after Tennis Australia (TA) decided not to award him a wildcard to the main draw, the organisers said on Thursday.

TA boss and Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley also confirmed the 25-year-old Queenslander had rejected a chance to compete in next week's qualifying event at MelbournePark.

"We made the offer, (Davis Cup captain) Lleyton (Hewitt) did, we said 'We'd just like you to play the Australian Open wildcard playoff and if you just make yourself available, you give yourself a good chance to get in'," Tiley told the Herald Sun.

"Now to get into the Australian Open, he's not going to be getting a wildcard. He'd have to go into qualifying, so that's a decision for him.

"I would hope that Bernie would want to play (qualifying), but he's indicated that that's likely not the case. He's one of Australia's top players and we'd love to see him competing and playing. (But) his decision will be his."

Tomic, ranked a career high 17 in 2016, has plunged to 140 after a forgettable season in which he won only 10 of 19 matches at the elite level. He has reached the fourth round of the Australian Open on three occasions. 

Muguruza awarded wildcard at Sydney International

Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza has accepted a wildcard into next week's Sydney International, the tournament organisers said on Thursday.

World number two Muguruza hopes to step up her preparations for the Australian Open after she was forced to retire with leg cramps during her opening match at the Brisbane International on Tuesday.

"I've only played in Sydney once before and I really enjoyed the conditions there, and the beautiful city," the 24-year-old Spaniard said in a statement.

"This wildcard is a very valuable opportunity for me get back on the court and hopefully play a few more matches before the first Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne.

"The Sydney draw is incredibly strong and there will be no easy matches."

The tournament, which begins at Sydney Olympic Park on Sunday, will feature three of the four current women's grand slam holders as Muguruza will be joined by US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Roland Garros winner Jelena Ostapenko.

The field also include seven-time grand slam winner Venus Williams, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, 2016 Australian and US Open champion Angelique Kerber and Australia's 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur.

Thiem reaches last eight in Doha to be last seed standing

Top seed Dominic Thiem beat Aljaz Bedene 7-5, 6-4 to book a place in the Qatar Open quarter-finals as all his fellow seeds bowed out in the second round in Doha on Wednesday.

Slovenian Bedene saved 12 out of 15 break points to push the Austrian but the world number five survived the test to be the only seed left in the draw, apart from Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who won the event in 2013.

Yet world number 31 Gasquet, the fifth seed, was surprisingly beaten 6-3, 6-4 in the late match by Greece's rising talent Stefanos Tsitsipas, with the 19-year-old from Athens progressing to face Thiem in the next round.

Seventh-seeded Fernando Verdasco was defeated 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 by Russian youngster Andrey Rublev while eighth seed Feliciano Lopez suffered a shock 6-4, 7-6(2) loss to Bosnia's Mirza Basic, who is ranked 138th in the world.

The Spanish duo joined high-ranking players Pablo Carreno Busta, Tomas Berdych, Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Filip Krajinovic in exiting the tournament in the early stages.

In the quarter-finals, Rublev, 20, will face Croatia's Borna Coric, who ousted Carreno Busta in the first round, while Basic will take on Guido Pella after the Argentine overcame Stefano Travaglia 7-6(4), 6-3.

French wildcard Gael Monfils beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 to set up the other last-eight clash with German Peter Gojowczyk.

Cilic acknowledges payment issue at Bhupathi's IPTL

Croatian Marin Cilic on Wednesday acknowledged that there were issues with regard to players' payment during the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), which shut down last year due to financial crunch.

India's celebrated player Mahesh Bhupathi had launched the League in 2014 on the lines of much successful cricket league IPL. It began with four teams with bases in India, Dubai, Singapore and Manila.

Japan was added in the 2015 season but in 2016 again it was back to four teams with Manila backing out, reportedly because the League did not fulfil its financial obligations.

The League was not played in 2017 as Singapore Slammers complained of payment issues.

Cilic, who was part of the 2015 UAE Royals team, did not elaborate much, but acknowledged that the money was indeed an issue.

"There were some issues, just bad thing that it happened like that for an event so successful. I think all things will clear up. Looking overall, it's very, very positive for Asian cities where there was not much tennis. Best players in the world came and played tennis. That was great to see and fan reaction was very nice," Cilic said after he made it to the quarter-finals of the Tata Open Maharashtra on Wednesday.

Bhupathi's comment was sought on the issue when he came to watch Sumit Nagal's match on Tuesday but he had refused to speak on the issue. 

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