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.