Sobering image melts the tennis world
THREE-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray withdrew from the ATP Washington Open on Friday, hours after a 3am finish that left him crying into a towel following his victory.
The 31-year-old British star, who returned in June from an 11-month layoff with a right hip injury, also withdrew from next week's ATP Toronto Masters, citing the fatigue from three grueling three-set Washington victories.
"I've played quite a few matches this week in Washington and I need to be smart with my rest and recovery as I come back from injury," Murray said.
The 31-year-old Scotsman, whose next US Open hardcourt tune-up event will be the Cincinnati Masters starting August 13, was angry following his 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-6 (4) victory over Romanian Marius Copil at having been forced to play from midnight to 3am - the latest finish in the Washington event's 50-year history.
After the match, Murray wept into a towel for several minutes and later said he was considering withdrawing. When he did, it handed a walkover into the semi-finals to 19-year-old Australian Alex De Minaur, who ousted 11th seed Steve Johnson and eighth seed Chung Hyeon, both on Thursday.
"I don't think I should be put in a position like that," Murray said immediately after the match. "(My body) doesn't feel great right now.
"I've had a few long matches. Finishing matches at three in the morning isn't good for anyone involved in the event, players, TV, fans, anyone.
"When you're expected to come back and perform the next day, I think that's unreasonable.
"It's a very difficult position to be coming back from a long injury to be finishing matches at 3 o'clock in the morning. By the time you finish doing recovery and everything it's 5.30 or 6 o'clock in the morning."
Murray has fought so hard just to get back on the court after a long injury layoff and his emotion spilled out after his third consecutive three-setter against Copil, which saw his time on court stretch past eight hours is his comeback tournament.
Veteran commentator Jim Courier called the moment perfectly. "It's a beautiful thing to see," he said.
"That is what it's all about, right here."
Another commentaor added: "In many ways it's a lovely shot."
The Washington event starts midweek men's matches typically not before 4pm, a nod to past complaints by some of having to repeatedly play in the heat of the day while bigger names had cooler conditions at night.
Meanwhile, 10th-seeded Greek teen Stefanos Tsitsipas took one of the biggest victories of his young career with his 6-3, 6-4 upset of Belgian third seed David Goffin.
Tsitsipas, 19, ousted Goffin in just 74 minutes.
Ranked a career-high 32nd, he reached the fourth round last month at Wimbledon, becoming the first Greek player in the last 16 of a Grand Slam in the Open Era.
Tsitsipas reached his first career ATP final in May at Barcelona, losing to Rafael Nadal.
Defending champion and world No. 3 Alexander Zverev of Germany was set to face Japanese seventh seed Kei Nishikori, with the winner to face Tsitsipas, and local hero Denis Kudla was to meet Russian 16th seed Andrey Rublev in other quarter-finals.
On the women's side, two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova was to face Kazak eighth seed Yulia Putintseva for a semi-final spot.