BRITAIN’S Andy Murray admits he may miss the ATP World Tour Finals in London for the second year in a row after his resurgence was checked by world No1 Novak Djokovic at the US Open on Wednesday night.
Murray skipped the tournament at the O2 last season in favour of having back surgery on a long-standing injury and this time faces a battle to qualify following a mixed campaign.
The Scot has begun to show signs of his grand slam-winning form in recent tournaments, yet has not reached a final since winning Wimbledon 14 months ago and lost his quarter-final to Djokovic in four sets.
Murray, seeded eighth at Flushing Meadows, fought back from a set down to level the match but struggled to stay with the Serb, who won 7-6 (7-1), 6-7 (1-7), 6-2, 6-4 in three and a half hours.
The 27-year-old needed on-court treatment for stiffness in his hips and back during the fourth set in New York, and hinted that missing the World Tour Finals might prove a blessing in disguise.
“To be honest, it was not a massive goal of mine,” he said of the event, at which he has never progressed past the semi-finals. “It’s obviously nice to qualify for it. It’s a good tournament. I played a number of years and enjoyed it. But I don’t want to overplay. I’ll play the right schedule.”
Murray lies ninth in the qualification standings, with only the top eight guaranteed a spot barring injuries. Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have all booked their trips to London.
The 2012 US Open champion conceded that Djokovic’s superior condition gave him an edge as an epic wore on, but believes the stiff test will only aid his bid to return to the game’s summit.
“Maybe I haven’t played enough matches at that level this year,” he added. “Maybe I’ll gain a lot from playing a match like that as it doesn’t matter how much you train, it’s different on court.”