Sports

Nadal withdraws; Andy Murray loses to Medvedev in Brisbane

Nadal withdraws; Andy Murray  loses to Medvedev in Brisbane
Brisbane, Jan 2 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 1/2/2019 11:05:21 AM IST

Andy Murray lost his second-round match less than an hour after Rafael Nadal withdrew from the Brisbane International on Wednesday. Both players arrived in Australia after long injury breaks, and neither had played a competitive match since September.

At least Murray completed two matches. Playing on a protected ranking after an injury-interrupted 18 months, he beat James Duckworth before losing to fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2. There were signs in both matches that he is still bothered by the hip problem which has derailed his last two seasons.

Murray, a three-time major champion, recovered a service break in the first set and was in the match at 5-5 until Medvedev won six straight games. The second-ranked Nadal had a first-round bye but withdrew on the eve of his scheduled second-round match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after having an MRI on a muscle strain in his left thigh. Nadal said he’d head to Melbourne after a brief stopover in Sydney for a Fast4 event to prepare for the Australian Open. The 32-year-old Spaniard is confident he’ll be fit enough to compete at the season’s first major, which starts on Jan. 14 at Melbourne Park.

Also exiting the men’s draw on Wednesday where defending champion Nick Kyrgios, who lost to Jeremy Chardy 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3, and third-seeded Kyle Edmund, who lost to Japanese qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama 7-6 (6), 6-4.

Second-seeded Kei Nishikori beat and 2017 champion Grigor Dimitrov had straight-set wins earlier to set up a quarterfinal showdown _ a rematch of their final in 2017. Also advancing were fifth-seeded Milos Raonic and seventh-seeded Alex De Minaur. Anett Kontaveit beat fourth-seeded Petra Kvitova 7-5, 7-6 (1) to reach the women’s quarterfinals, and Anastasija Sevastova advanced to a quarterfinal match against U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka when she beat Harriet Dart 6-2, 6-0.

Fifth-seeded Karolina Pliskova had a 7-5, 6-2 win over Marie Bouzkova, Ajla Tomljanovic beat Johanna Konta 6-2, 7-6 (2), and Donna Vekic ousted No. 6 Kiki Bertens 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-5.

Nadal had one match at an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi before arriving this week in Australia, where he forecast his withdrawal when he said he wanted to focus on quality of his play over quantity of matches in his schedule this year. He played nine tournaments in 2018, winning five titles, including the French Open, in a season curtailed by knee and ankle injuries.

Taro Daniel, a lucky loser from qualifying, will take Nadal’s place in the Brisbane draw and will play Tsonga on Thursday.

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