Sir Andy Murray will not be defending his Olympic gold medal after withdrawing from his first-round match only hours before it was scheduled to begin. The Scot got off to a winning start in Tokyo with partner Joe Salisbury, and he was set to begin his singles title defence against Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada. Murray, who won gold in singles in London 2012 and Rio 2016, withdrew and was replaced by Australia’s Max Purcell in a remarkable turn of events. Murray was forced to choose between the singles and doubles events due to a strained quad muscle.
Murray said, “I am really disappointed at having to withdraw but the medical staff have advised me against playing in both events. I have made the difficult decision to withdraw from the singles and focus on playing doubles with Joe.”
Murray and his doubles partner Joe Salisbury made a strong first-round showing in the men’s doubles at the Ariake Tennis Park on Saturday, establishing themselves as medal possibilities. With Auger-Aliassime considered a heavy favourite versus Murray in the singles, this could have influenced Murray’s decision.
Murray had a daunting draw against doubles second seeds and Roland Garros champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut with Salisbury, but they beat the French duo 6-3, 6-2. Although Salisbury and Murray had never met before, the former is Britain’s finest doubles player, and Murray has much of experience in the format.
After that win, Murray said, “I think we have the potential to be a really good team, I think the result today showed that. Doubles is always tricky because sometimes the matches can come down to a few points.”
Because Murray has chosen to concentrate on the doubles, it is up to Liam Broady to represent Team GB in the men’s singles, and he has done so by reaching the second round.