ATP

Murray progresses after Kyrgios withdrawal leaves him in 'strangest situation'

By Sports Desk August 23, 2021

Andy Murray was left in "the strangest situation" he has experienced before a tour match at the Winston-Salem Open following Nick Kyrgios' withdrawal.

Murray had been due to face Kyrgios in an enticing first-round clash in North Carolina, only for the Australian to pull out due to a knee issue.

Former world number one Murray was then drawn against a lucky loser from qualifying, which had only been completed shortly before Murray was due to go on court on Sunday.

The tight turnaround prompted Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Max Purcell to decline the chance to take on Murray, while another option, Yosuke Watanuki, ended up with a direct path to the main draw.

Home hope Noah Rubin, who played his college tennis at the same venue having competed for Wake Forest University, stepped in shortly after his qualifying defeat to Lucas Pouille.

Despite Rubin's best efforts, the challenge proved too much for him as Murray swept to a 6-2 6-0 win, capping a bizarre evening for the three-time grand slam champion.

"It is, by far, the strangest situation I've ever been in before a match on tour," said Murray. "It's pretty rare that you experience something new when you're 17 years into your career.

"I sort of knew at 6:15 that Nick wasn't going to play, but the qualifying was still going on. I was told that if I played a lucky loser, I would play this evening, but if I played against a qualifier the match would be suspended until tomorrow [Monday].

"Then I was told that I drew a lucky loser and I was going to be playing this evening against Pierre-Hugues Herbert, that was like 15-20 minutes after the last qualifying match finished, then Herbert decided he didn't want to play.

"Then they went down the list and none of them, Purcell and Watanuki, they didn't want to play either. And Rubin, who had obviously just finished playing 20 minutes beforehand said, 'yeah I'll do it. I'll play'.

"I kind of had like three opponents in the space of 45 minutes, I was warming up for the match to start at seven and then stopped and then prepared to play Herbert then he didn't want to play then Noah obviously decided but he'd just finished so it was a break and it was just very, very odd sort of 45 minutes, an hour before we went on."

Murray is due to face 13th seed Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

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