World No1 Sir Andy Murray’s stuttering preparations for his Wimbledon defence suffered another blow after he was forced to withdraw from his first exhibition clash at the Hurlingham Club through injury.
Murray, who last played at Hurlingham in 2014, was supposed to take on France’s Lucas Pouille at the Aspall Tennis Classic but pulled out after experiencing soreness in his hip.
It is still thought unlikely that the injury will sideline Murray from Wimbledon, which starts on Monday, and the 30-year-old is set to feature in the second scheduled match against an as yet unidentified opponent on Friday.
Nevertheless, two showdowns on grass, only one of which can be deemed competitive, is not the prelude Murray will have hoped for as he bids for a third Wimbledon title and fourth grand slam in total.
French Open semi-finalist Murray was the favourite to win the Aegon Championships, which finished on Sunday, and win a third successive Queen’s Club crown but crashed at the first hurdle.
Murray was beaten by world No90 Jordan Thompson of Australia, who was only drafted in a matter of hours before the tie following the late withdrawal of Aljaz Bedene through injury.
That defeat prompted his inclusion at the Hurlingham event, although his final means of preparation before the main draw at SW19 will come just 72 hours before his maiden tussle.
Despite a year which has seen him struggle with form, illness and injury, the Scot is set to be seeded No1 at the Wimbledon championships when the rankings are confirmed today.
The man Murray usurped as world No1, Novak Djokovic, was equally frustrated as his Wimbledon preparations were scuppered for the day by rain as play at Eastbourne was cancelled.
Djokovic, who has not played a pre-Wimbledon warm-up tournament since Queen’s in 2010, was making his first appearance at the event but his first round clash with Vasek Pospisil lasted less than two games. Djokovic had won the first and was leading the second 30-15. Play is set to resume on Wednesday morning.
The weather also washed out the all-British showdown between Marcus Willis and Liam Broady in Wimbledon qualifying, while Britons Katie Swan and Hong Kong-born Tara Moore bowed out.
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