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Murray withdraws from Djokovic clash in Madrid

Andy Murray withdrew from his match against Novak Djokovic in the round of 16 at the Madrid Open on Thursday because of a stomach illness.

Murray, 34, a three-time major winner, was set to face Djokovic for the 37th time in a highly anticipated clash on clay at the ATP Masters 1000 event in the Spanish capital. It would have been the first time Murray and Djokovic played against each other since Djokovic won the Doha final in 2017.

“Unfortunately, Andy Murray is unable to take to the Manolo Santana Stadium due to illness,” tournament organizers said in a statement on social media. “Instead, Andrey Rublev and Daniel Evans will open the day’s play on centre court.”

Djokovic advanced to the quarterfinals with a walkover victory. He will next face Hubert Hurkacz, who defeated Dusan Lajovic 7-5, 6-3.

Murray, who had earlier said he would skip the clay-court season to protect his fitness, accepted a late wild card in Madrid and beat Dominic Thiem and Denis Shapovalov in his opening two matches. The former No. 1 hadn’t won consecutive matches since January.

Ranked 78th in the world, the 34-year-old Murray has been making his way up the rankings since having hip surgery in both 2018 and 2019. He had arrived in Madrid with a 10-8 record in eight tournaments, losing in the Sydney final to Aslan Karatsev in January.

Djokovic is also trying to regain his best form after not being allowed to play in the Australian Open because he was not vaccinated. This is his fourth tournament of the season. He opened in Madrid with a two-set win over Gael Monfils.

Rublev, who beat Djokovic in the Serbia final, advanced to the quarterfinals after a hard-fought 7-6 (7), 7-5 win over Evans in nearly 2½ hours. The sixth-seeded Rublev converted just three of his 12 break-point opportunities.

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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