BRITISH No1 Andy Murray’s hopes of playing in next month’s ATP World Tour Finals in London could be set for a major boost amid increasing uncertainty over the participation of injured Rafael Nadal.
Nadal’s camp was yesterday forced to deny reports in his native Spain that the world No3 had already made up his mind to miss the tournament at the O2 and have surgery to remove his inflamed appendix.
But his spokesperson admitted that Nadal could pull out of the season-ending event in Greenwich following his participation in the Swiss Indoors in Basel, which starts next week.
The 28-year-old’s absence from the Tour Finals would vastly increase Murray’s chances of qualifying for the tournament – giving spectators a home player to cheer on.
Murray currently lies 10th in the pecking order to play in the event, with only the top eight guaranteed entry but has bolstered his schedule in an attempt to climb the rankings.
Spanish radio reports claimed Nadal had decided to play in Switzerland next week and then the Paris Masters at the end of this month before having his appendix removed. That hypothetical scenario would give him around two months’ recuperation time before the first grand slam of next year, January’s Australian Open.
Nadal attempted to play through the pain at last week’s Shanghai Masters but lost his first and only match to countryman Feliciano Lopez in straight sets.
His spokesperson said: “Rafa is playing Basle and, depending on how he feels and what the doctors say, will decide then, after the tournament, on what’s best.”
Nadal is one of four players to have booked their spots in London, along with Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka. US Open finalists Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic, Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic occupy the other four places, while David Ferrer is also above Murray.
The Scot missed last year’s Tour Finals having just undergone back surgery but is playing extra events, including this week’s low-ranking Erste Bank Open in Vienna, in the hope of qualifying.
Murray, who won the Shenzhen Open last month, said: “I didn’t necessarily play my best in Shenzhen but I managed to win the tournament. And there’s still obviously a few more weeks left in the season. Sure I would love to make it to London.”
Neither Nadal or Murray has ever won the tournament in London, which takes place from 9 November and is the most lucrative on the circuit outside of the four grand slams.
Djokovic is also a slight doubt as his wife Jelena is expecting their first child at the end of October or beginning of November.