Murray's hopes boosted by Nadal withdrawal

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Andy Murray's hopes of further success in what has been an auspicious year have been boosted after world number one Rafael Nadal pulled out of the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai.

The Spaniard, who usurped Roger Federer at the top of the ATP rankings earlier this year following victories at the French Open and Wimbledon, made the announcement just three days after pulling out of the Paris Masters with a knee injury.

The 22-year-old indicated in a statement on his website that fatigue rather than injury was behind his withdrawal from the event in China.

Frenchman Gilles Simon will take Nadal's place in the draw in Shanghai.

Nadal said on his website: "It has been a long and difficult year where I managed to obtain great results, both on a professional and on a personal level.

"I have mentioned on various occasions that the tennis calendar has been extremely hard with practically all weeks playing and where it forces players to compete week in week out, making it impossible for a top-level player to be 100% on each event.

"On a personal level I had as one of my goals to become number one during this year and competing at so many events might have harmed, especially at the end of the season, my physical condition, taking away the freshness needed to play at the top level of the game on these last events.

"I don't know if this has been a mistake or not but the fact is that with the goal achieved I also have to take one of the most difficult and painful decisions.

"I have decided not to compete on the Masters Cup in Shanghai."

Organisers of the Shanghai tournament, which gets under way on Sunday, could yet receive further bad news with world number two Federer also struggling with an injury.

Like Nadal, the Swiss pulled out of the Paris Masters at the quarter-final stage with a back problem, and has yet to confirm he will travel to China for the showpiece tournament. Federer has said, however, he expects to be fit to play.