It was to be a mouth-watering encounter between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic on Thursday but Murray withdrew from the match citing food poisoning.
Tournament director Feliciano Lopez said “I had a message yesterday from Andy that he was not feeling well. He had food poisoning, it sounds like he is feeling better this morning but is still not well enough to go on the court.”
The news is certainly disappointing because Murray and Djokovic have not played each other since 2017. With Murray finding arguably his best form since that season, and Djokovic still working his way back from a long absence from the tour, there might have even have been a small chance of an upset.
“I am really sorry for him that he was not able to come out on the court,” Djokovic told the Tennis Channel. “Obviously it’s not great for the tournament, for our sport. Everyone was looking forward to that encounter. We haven’t played in five years but hopefully we will get a chance to play soon.”
As it is, Murray is expected to move on to Rome next week, where he is on the entry list for the qualifying event. Thus far, he has insisted that he has no plans to play the French Open in a little over a fortnight’s time, preferring to concentrate on his grass-court preparations. But he has been known to change his mind before. British No2 Dan Evans joked on Wednesday that he had sent Murray a cheeky text message saying “See you at the French”, but hadn’t received a reply.
Djokovic thus moves on to the quarter-finals, where he will play either his compatriot Dusan Lajovic or last year’s Wimbledon semi-finalist Hubert Hurkacz.
Meanwhile, Murray has at least improved his ranking with his two victories here – over Shapovalov and 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem. He will start next week just inside the world’s top 70.