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Heavy-hearted former champion Murray forced to miss Wimbledon

Andy Murray, twice the men's singles champion at Wimbledon, has decided 'with a heavy heart' that he cannot risk playing this year (Picture: John Waltno/PA Wire).
Andy Murray, twice the men's singles champion at Wimbledon, has decided 'with a heavy heart' that he cannot risk playing this year (Picture: John Waltno/PA Wire).
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Andy Murray last night announced his withdrawal from Wimbledon after he decided best-of-five-set tennis is too demanding at this stage of his comeback from hip surgery.

Murray, twice champion at SW19, had been due to play Benoit Paire in the first round tomorrow.

Wimbledon's courts and its flowers will need constant attention in the forecast hot temperatures (Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire).

Wimbledon's courts and its flowers will need constant attention in the forecast hot temperatures (Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire).

The decision came despite the Scot having spoken positively about his prospects at a press conference on Saturday.

Murray said in a statement: “It’s with regret I’m withdrawing from Wimbledon.

“I’ve made significant progress in practice and matches over the last 10 days, but after lengthy discussions with my team, and with a heavy heart, we’ve decided that playing best-of-five-set matches might be a bit too soon in the recovery process.

“We did everything we could to try to be ready in time. I will start practising on the hard courts from Monday and continuing with my rehab and recovery and I’m looking forward to the US hard-court season.

“Thanks for all the messages of support and I’m excited to finally be back playing after so long out.”

Following hip surgery in January, Murray finally returned to the match court at Queen’s Club two weeks ago, losing a close match to Australia’s Nick Kyrgios.

He then took a wild card into the Nature Valley International at Eastbourne and defeated Stan Wawrinka before losing to Beverley’s Kyle Edmund, who has usurped him as British No 1.

Murray’s absence from the practice schedule at the All England Club yesterday hinted that all might not be well, but the news still came as a surprise given his public confidence that he would play.

It is the fourth straight grand slam Murray has withdrawn from after his hip problems first became apparent at Wimbledon last summer and means he will miss his home major for the first time since a wrist injury kept him away in 2007.

Speaking on Saturday, Murray said: “Unless in the next couple of days I wake up and don’t feel good (I’ll play). Through all of this, I have to view it very much day by day, just as a process.”

The 31-year-old, whose ranking will plummet to outside the top 800, is next scheduled to play at the Citi Open in Washington beginning on July 30.

Murray has been replaced in the Wimbledon draw by lucky loser Jason Jung from Chinese Taipei.

Meanwhile, Wimbledon’s head groundsman Neil Stubley has denied the grass is longer at the All England Club this year and is confident the courts can handle the heat.

Rafael Nadal said on Saturday he thought the grass was longer than in previous years, but Stubley, the head of courts and horticulture, said: “Still 8mm, that’s the height we’ve played for many years now and it’s exactly the same this year.”

Last year the state of the courts during a hot first week of play was criticised by a number of players, with France’s Kristina Mladenovic branding them dangerous.

With temperatures again soaring into the high 20s and potentially above, Stubley knows there could be complaints again, but is not unduly worried.

He said: “It’s always in the back of your mind if we have a spike in temperature then the potential risk that may come with that.

“This year compared to last year we’re about three or four degrees lower. With perennial rye grass, the upper ceiling is 28, 29 degrees, once you go above that the plant naturally will start to stress because it’s a living surface.

“At the moment we’re at that top level, but because we can afford to get the irrigation on in the evenings because we’ve got nice weather, at the moment we’re nicely in control.

“We’re constantly monitoring the forecasts and the forecasts are looking like this (for this week). We’re very happy with where we are.”

Stubley refuted allegations last year that the courts were not in as good condition and continues to insist the issue was purely cosmetic.

He said: “The courts were still wearing the same, it’s just that the plant was under stress and it just looked slightly different.

“But all of the data we were getting back during the championships was telling us they were exactly where they needed to be.

“We’ve stuck with the same grasses, we’re doing the same processes. This year we’ve been fortunate that we’ve had no disruptions at all in the practice week, we’ve had nine full days of practice, which for the tournament and the players is really good.”