Nick Kyrgios withdrew from the ATP Winston-Salem Open on Sunday night, paving the way for Andy Murray to enter the second round with a dominant win over lucky guy Noah Rubin.
After a slow start to the first set, former world number one Murray found his form and crawled through his opening match, beating Rubin 6-2, 6-0 in just 58 minutes.
Murray was initially scheduled to face Kyrgios, but the Aussie withdrew just before the start of their game, turning Sunday’s schedule into chaos.
Murray then takes on 13th-seeded Frances Tiafoe, who was given a bye to the second round.
The organizers gave Murray several scenarios before finally deciding that he would face American Rubin, who had to play consecutive games with just an hour of rest between them.
“It was a strange 45 minutes before I played this match,” said the Scot. “I didn’t know if I would play tonight.
“They said I would play a qualifier and play tomorrow. And then they said I would play a lucky loser. So my opponent makes three substitutions in 45 minutes.
“Unfortunately for (Rubin) he had to play a tough game in the heat and then had to come out again.”
Rubin took court after falling in a two-hour qualifying final against France’s Lucas Pouille.
Murray, 34, has had to battle his own injuries, the latest being a groin problem. But that didn’t seem to matter against Rubin, as Murray hit 11 aces and only had three double faults.
Kyrgios withdrew because he had been suffering from pain in his left knee for some time. He said he would rather rest for the upcoming US Open than aggravate it during a regular tournament.
“Of course I had to take care of my body and next week with a Grand Slam,” he said. “I have been suffering from knee pain for the past few weeks.
“With the US Open right around the corner, I didn’t think it was worth the risk of going out and possibly making it worse.”
Kyrgios and Murray were about to face each other for the seventh time, with Murray holding an impressive 5-1 lead in the series.
“I’ve been to Florida rehab and training and I came here excited to play Andy Murray, one of my good friends,” said Kyrgios, who stood before his new conference with a cloth medical cloth wrapped around his left knee.
Kyrgios’ only win over Murray came in their most recent match three years ago at the Queen’s Club, where Murray returned after his first hip surgery.
“I had a bit of a hit to see what it’s like today,” Kyrgios said. “I now have a week (until the US Open).”
Kyrgios had to cancel his third round match at Wimbledon due to a stomach injury. He dropped out of the Olympics due to a lack of fans.
He lost in his opening matches in Washington and Toronto in recent weeks and this would have been his fifth tournament of the year outside of Australia.
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