US Open: Andy Murray to face Australia’s James Duckworth in opening round as Jo Konta handed tough draw

Murray, who has not played in a Grand Slam tournament since Wimbledon last summer because of a hip injury, faces a first-round meeting with Australia’s James Duckworth

Paul Newman
New York
Thursday 23 August 2018 21:07
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Andy Murray is expected to play at the US Open
Andy Murray is expected to play at the US Open

Nobody will be taking Andy Murray’s participation for granted until he finally walks out on court here at the US Open next week, but assuming he does make it to the start line the former world No 1 has been given a decent chance of making a winning return to Grand Slam competition.

Murray, who has not played in a Grand Slam tournament since Wimbledon last summer because of a hip injury, faces a first-round meeting with Australia’s James Duckworth.

It would be a matter of debate as to which of the two players has had more trouble with injuries over the last two years. Murray, who had hip surgery in January, did not play for 11 months after limping out of Wimbledon last summer, while Duckworth has spent even more time on the operating table.

Given that Murray pulled out of last year’s US Open 48 hours before the start of the tournament and withdrew from Wimbledon last month less than 24 hours before the start of competition at the All England Club, organisers here will be keeping their fingers crossed that the Scot finally returns to competition after missing the last four Grand Slam events. The tournament starts on Monday.

Murray has played only two hard-court events since withdrawing from Wimbledon. He won three hard-fought contests in Washington before pulling out of his scheduled quarter-final, having not had enough time to recover from his previous match, and lost to Lucas Pouille in the first round of last week’s Cincinnati Masters.

Duckworth meanwhile played only one match last year, when he had two foot operations and one on his shoulder. After this year’s Australian Open he was out for four months after having further foot and elbow operations. He returned to competition in May but has since won only two tour-level matches.

The 26-year-old Australian fell out of the world’s top 1,000 earlier this year and is now ranked No 445. With Murray currently ranked No 378 in the world because of his own lack of matches, both men owe their places in the draw here to “protected” world rankings, which allow players returning from long-term injury to gain entry to tournaments on the basis of their previous position in the world order.

Either Murray or Duckworth will play Fernando Verdasco or Feliciano Lopez in the second round, while Juan Martin del Potro is a potential third-round opponent.

Andy Murray grimaces during his defeat by Lucas Pouille

Kyle Edmund succeeded Murray as the British No 1 earlier this year, but the world No 16 won only one match in his first three tournaments on hard courts this summer. He accepted a wild card into this week’s Winston-Salem Open in the hope of finding some form and was meeting Steve Johnson, of the United States, in Thursday’s quarter-finals.

In the first round here Edmund will face Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi. The 23-year-old Briton could face Jack Sock in the third round, while Rafael Nadal, the defending champion and No 1 seed, is a potential fourth-round opponent. Nadal starts against a familiar foe in his fellow Spaniard, David Ferrer.

Britain's Cameron Norrie, who won his first match at Grand Slam level here last year, has a winnable first-round meeting with Australia’s Jordan Thompson, with the winner to face Damir Dzumhur or Dusan Lajovic in the second round.

Novak Djokovic, the Wimbledon champion, faces Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics in the first round and appears to have a reasonably straightforward route to the quarter-finals, where he could meet Roger Federer, the No 2 seed. Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka is Federer’s first-round opponent, while Nick Kyrgios could face the Swiss in the third round.

Stan Wawrinka, who has shown signs of a return to form this summer following his own difficult return from injury, faces Grigor Dimitrov first time out. Wawrinka upset the Bulgarian at the same stage at Wimbledon last month.

Britain’s Johanna Konta paid the price for her recent fall down the world rankings when she was paired with France’s Caroline Garcia, the world No 6, in the first round. Konta, who has never played Garcia, is down to No 46 from a career-high position of No 4 just 13 months ago. Garcia or Konta will face Monica Puig or Stefanie Voegele in the second round.

Serena Williams, who has been moved up from her world ranking of No 26 to be seeded No 17, faces Poland’s Magda Linette in the first round but could soon face some major challenges. She is seeded to meet her sister Venus in the third round and Simona Halep, the world No 1, in the fourth round.

Johanna Konta is down to No 46 in the world 

Sloane Stephens, the defending champion, faces Evgeniya Rodina in the first round and appears to have a comparatively favourable draw. Caroline Wozniacki, who has not won a match since Wimbledon and has been troubled by a leg problem, faces a former US Open champion, Sam Stosur, in the first round.

Four other British players were competing here today in the second round of qualifying. Naomi Broady was beaten 6-4, 7-6 by Spain’s Georgina Garcia Perez, while her brother, Liam, was facing the Belarusian Uladzimir Ignatik,

Heather Watson, who beat the 14-year-old American Cori Gauff in the first round of qualifying, was meeting Ayano Shimizu, while Katie Swan was also facing Japanese opposition in Nao Hibino.

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