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Kim Clijsters, Andy Murray get U.S. Open wild cards

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Past U.S. Open champions Kim Clijsters and Andy Murray received wild cards into this year’s event, marking their returns from retirement and injury, respectively, to Grand Slam tennis.

Clijsters, a 37-year-old Belgian, will play the U.S. Open for the first time since her second retirement in 2012. She won the tournament in 2005, 2009 and 2010. The Open starts Aug. 31 without fans.

Clijsters announced her comeback last September and returned to competition earlier this year, losing her two matches to Jo Konta and Garbine Muguruza before the coronavirus pandemic halted sports. She recently was more successful in World Team Tennis events, beating Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.

Murray, the 33-year-old, two-time Olympic champion from Great Britain, will play his first Grand Slam since the 2019 Australian Open. In Melbourne last year, Murray tearfully spoke about the possible end of his career due to a hip injury.

But he returned last summer after a career-saving operation and won a lower-level tour event in October. A pelvic injury then set him back, and he was unable to play the 2020 Australian Open.

Murray, the 2012 U.S. Open champion, is ranked No. 129 and was one spot out of direct entry into the U.S. Open when entries were first published Tuesday.

Murray, Novak Djokovic and Marin Cilic are the only men in the current U.S. Open field who own Grand Slam singles titles. Rafael Nadal (travel concerns) and Roger Federer (injury) are both not playing a Slam main draw for the first time since the 1999 U.S. Open.

U.S. Open men’s wild cards: Andy Murray, Ulises Blanch, Maxime Cressy, Sebastian Korda, Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, Michael Mmoh, Brandon Nakashima and JJ Wolf.
U.S. Open women’s wild cards: Kim Clijsters, Usue Arconada, CiCi Bellis, Francesca Di Lorenzo, Caroline Dolehide, Ann Li, Robin Montgomery and Whitney Osuigwe.

U.S OPEN ENTRY LISTS: Men | Women 

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Andy Murray to miss Australian Open

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Andy Murray‘s return to Grand Slam tennis will not be happening at next month’s Australian Open.

Murray, who at last year’s Aussie Open tearfully spoke about the possible end of his career due to a hip injury, returned last summer after a career-saving operation. But a pelvic injury set him back in the fall.

“I’ve worked so hard to get myself into a situation where I can play at the top level, and I’m gutted I’m not going to be able to play,” he said on Saturday, according to British media. “After the Australian Open earlier this year, when I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to play again, I was excited about coming back to Australia and giving my best, and that makes this even more disappointing for me. Unfortunately I’ve had a setback recently and as a precaution, need to work through that before I get back on court competing.”

Murray, 32 and a two-time Olympic singles champion, underwent his second hip surgery after last year’s Australian Open. He returned to pro tennis in June and by October won a lower-level ATP event in Belgium to move back into contention to qualify for the Olympics in singles outright.

The Olympic singles field of 64 players — no more than four players per gender per country — will be determined by the ATP rankings after the French Open.

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Andy Murray set to skip U.S. Open to focus on singles

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Former No. 1 tennis player Andy Murray said Thursday he will bypass the U.S. Open entirely to work instead on rebuilding his singles career in smaller events.

Earlier this year, the two-time defending Olympic champion and three-time Grand Slam winner was set to retire due to nagging hip problems, but he decided in June to ease his way back into tennis by playing doubles. He won his comeback tournament with Spanish player Feliciano Lopez in a Wimbledon warmup. He returned to Wimbledon, where his 2013 and 2016 singles titles sent his home nation of Britain into a frenzy, to play doubles with Pierre-Hugues Herbert but lost in the second round.

He teamed up with his brother, Jamie, and won his first-round match in the Citi Open in Washington before losing in the second round, then returned to play with Lopez in Montreal, where he again advanced to the second round.

This week in Cincinnati, he and Lopez have advanced to the quarterfinals, where they will face off this afternoon against his brother.

“My goal is to get back playing at the level that I want to on the singles court, and I’ve decided that I need to focus all my energies on that right now,” Murray said in comments reported by BBC Sport.

The next step on his agenda is a tournament in Winston-Salem, N.C., with a field filled with mid-tier and lower-tier players. He may enter a Challenger tournament after that.

Murray, who played his first singles match since January’s Australian Open on Monday, said earlier in the week that he would not take a wild card in the U.S. Open singles draw. But he was still set to play men’s and mixed doubles in the U.S. Open until announcing his change of plans on Thursday.

In 2016, Murray won nine tournaments, including his second Wimbledon and Olympic titles. He finally broke the stranglehold of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to claim the No. 1 ranking after a couple of years in the top three.

But in 2017, he only won one tournament, a March event in Dubai. He still advanced to the French Open semifinals and Wimbledon quarterfinals, losing each match in five sets, and he held the No. 1 ranking until August.

After Wimbledon, he was idle for nearly a year. A loss in the 2018 U.S. Open second round, his only major of the year, seemed likely to be his last Grand Slam appearance.

His second hip surgery, though, has helped the 32-year-old Murray play without pain.