Murray-Djokovic blockbuster called off | Sunday Observer

Murray-Djokovic blockbuster called off

8 May, 2022
Novak Djokovic-Andy Murray
Novak Djokovic-Andy Murray

Tennis fans were gutted by the last-minute cancellation of Thursday’s mouth-watering encounter between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. It was supposed to be a revival of one of the sport’s great rivalries, but Murray withdrew at the 11th hour citing illness.

Murray hadn’t been seen on the site at all on Wednesday – except for in the small hours of the morning. Tuesday night’s three-set win over Denis Shapovalov, in which he played some of the finest tennis he has produced since the “resurfacing” of his right hip, had finished at around 12.30am.

The fact that Murray didn’t practise on Wednesday might have seemed odd in other circumstances, but the combination of the late finish and his increasingly economical training schedule meant that no one paid much attention. Now, however, we have learned that Murray spent the whole day in his room because of illness.

Tournament director Feliciano Lopez said “I had a message yesterday from Andy that he was not feeling well. He had food poisoning, it sounds like he is feeling better this morning but is still not well enough to go on the court.”

The news is certainly disappointing, because Murray and Djokovic have not played each other since 2017. With Murray finding arguably his best form since that season, and Djokovic still working his way back from a long absence from the tour, there might have even have been a small chance of an upset.

As it is, Murray is expected to move on to Rome next week, where he is on the entry list for the qualifying event.

Thus far, he has insisted that he has no plans to play the French Open in a little over a fortnight’s time, preferring to concentrate on his grass-court preparations.

But he has been known to change his mind before. British No2 Dan Evans joked on Wednesday that he had sent Murray a cheeky text message saying “See you at the French”, but hadn’t received a reply.

Meanwhile Murray has at least improved his ranking with his two victories here – over Shapovalov and 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem. He will start next week just inside the world’s top 70.

(The Telegraph)