This Saturday, less than 48 hours before the start of the event, Andy Murray announced his withdrawal from the U.S. Open.
A visibly upset Murray told the press:
“This is why I didn’t want to come in here. [I] had the issue with the hip since my match with Stan [Wawrinka] in Paris. Did pretty much everything that I could to get myself ready here and took a number of weeks off after Wimbledon. I spoke to a lot of hip specialists. Tried resting, rehabbing, to try and get myself ready here.
” [I] was practising okay 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.
“Unfortunately, I won’t be playing here this year.”
Unjustified criticism towards Murray
This announcement triggered a wave of criticism towards the former N°1. Why did he wait until after the draw to make his decision?
Looking at how upset he was during his press conference is, probably, a big part of the reason. He visibly wanted to play. His words, “[I] was practising okay the last few days”, are also quite telling in themselves. Maybe the acute pain that has kept him away from the courts for the last month came back.
Watch Murray’s full presser
We do not know. Only Murray and his team have the answers.
However, the Scot does not owe anything to anyone. He is only responsible for himself. A professional to the core, he knew he had no chance to win the tournament. It is very possible that something had happened between Friday and Saturday to justify his decision.
When confronted to such a decision, the rest of the field does not matter.
Nevertheless, when one looks at his face and his barely repressed tears in press, it seems like the criticism of his decision, of its timing, is unjustified. After all, it will not change the outcome of the tournament.
Regardless, we do not know what the draw would have looked like without him.
What we do know is that a lot of juggling was made before the schedule was released.
Considering that Murray withdrew after the draw, but before the release of the schedule for Day 1, Marin Cilic, the fifth seed, will take his place and will face Tennys Sandgren on Monday. Sam Querrey will take the Croatian’s spot against Gilles Simon, and Philipp Kohlschreiber (instead of Querrey) will play Tim Smyczek. Finally, Lukas Lacko enters as Lucky Loser. He will be Benoît Paire’s rival.