John McEnroe criticises US Open for not moving Roger Federer into bottom half of draw after Andy Murray withdrawal

Murray, who was the No 2 seed, pulled out on Saturday, two days before the start of play but 24 hours after the draw was made

Paul Newman
New York
Wednesday 30 August 2017 18:47 BST
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John McEnroe said he didn't blame Andy Murray for his late withdrawal
John McEnroe said he didn't blame Andy Murray for his late withdrawal (Getty)

John McEnroe has criticised the US Open for not moving Roger Federer into the bottom half of the draw following Andy Murray’s withdrawal from the tournament because of a hip injury.

Murray, who was the No 2 seed, pulled out on Saturday, two days before the start of play but 24 hours after the draw was made. That left Rafael Nadal and Federer as the top highest-ranked seeds, but the tournament followed its own rules on withdrawals by moving Marin Cilic, the highest ranked player outside the top four, into Murray’s position at the bottom of the draw.

It meant that Nadal and Federer, seeded No 1 and No 3 respectively, stayed in their positions in the draw, which puts them on course for a potential meeting in the semi-finals. Murray has been criticised in some quarters for not pulling out before the draw, which would have led to Nadal and Federer being seeded No 1 and No 2 and on course to meet in the final.

McEnroe, interviewed on Eurosport, said: “I don’t blame Murray at all because he waited as long as he can to see if that hip would react in a positive way, so I think it’s just bad luck for him that he didn’t. I think that people obviously knew since he hadn’t played a single match since Wimbledon that this was an issue.

“I don’t know exactly what the rules are but when he pulled out they should have put Roger Federer on the bottom half of the draw and that would be problem solved. Instead they have some crazy rule and I don’t get it.

“I think a fair amount of people saw it coming. Andy was waiting as late as possible, but if I were him I would have waited another day or so. I think he just said: ‘Look I can’t go all the way here.’

“The good news for the bottom half of the draw is you’re going to have opportunities galore and we’ll get to see if a couple of other players like [Marin] Cilic can win here. It’s unpredictable but it makes it very exciting for everyone.”

Murray pulled out of the US Open at the 11th hour
Murray pulled out of the US Open at the 11th hour (Getty Images)

Meanwhile Nadal said he had found Murray’s withdrawal “a little bit strange and difficult to understand”.

He explained: “Normally you want to keep practising, keep trying until the last moment. You don’t retire on Saturday morning. You retire on Monday morning or Sunday afternoon, not Saturday morning. If not, you can do it before the draw. That’s why I say it's strange. But of course he has his reasons.”

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