Rafael Nadal has described the timing of Andy Murray’s withdrawal from the US Open as “strange”.
Nadal, who began his campaign in New York with a straight-sets victory over Dusan Lajovic on Tuesday, also described Murray’s decision as “difficult to understand”.
The world No 2 appeared set to feature in New York having practised at Flushing Meadows for a week only to decide after a final hit on Saturday that his hip was too sore to compete.
If Murray had pulled out prior to Friday’s draw, Roger Federer would have moved up to second seed and he and Nadal would not have been in the same half of the draw leaving the door open for a final between the illustrious pair.
“I always thought that he was going to be playing if he was here practising,” said Nadal.
“It was a little bit strange that he retired just the morning after the draw was made. It was something that is a little bit strange and difficult to understand.
“Normally you want to keep practising, keep trying until the last moment. You don’t retire Saturday morning. You retire Monday morning or Sunday afternoon. If not, you can do it before the draw.
“That’s why I say it’s strange. But of course he has his reason, and for sure the only news, and the negative news, was that he will not be playing here.
“Injuries are bad for everybody. I know better than all of them. So I wish him fast and good recovery. That’s the most important thing.”
Nadal, who became the new world No 1 earlier this month despite suffering disappointing defeats in Montreal and Cincinnati, knows he will need to improve on his performance levels if he is to challenge for a third title at Flushing Meadows but believes he is well equipped to do so.
“My approach to the tournament obviously is still positive,” said the 31-year-old. “I have been playing well during the whole season, and I really had a very positive week of practice here.
“So I am confident I am ready to play much better than what I did today, and I believe that I’m going to do it.”
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