Rafael Nadal has called the timing of Andy Murray’s withdrawal from the US Open “strange” and “difficult to understand”.

It seemed that Murray was set to take part in the tournament having practised at Flushing Meadows for a week but then after a final hit on Saturday he decided that his hip was too sore to compete.

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Had Murray withdrawn prior to the draw then Roger Federer would have moved up to second seed and he and Nadal would not have been in the same half of the draw. That would have created the possibility of a final between the two.

Speaking earlier this week Nadal said, “I always thought that he was going to be playing if he was here practising. It was a little bit strange that he retired just the morning after the draw was made. It was something that is a little bit strange and difficult to understand. Normally you want to keep practising, keep trying until the last moment. You don’t retire Saturday morning. You retire Monday morning or Sunday afternoon. If not, you can do it before the draw.”

However, Nadal said that he knows “better than all of them” how bad injuries are and went on to wish Murray a fast and good recovery.

Nadal became the new world No 1 earlier in August despite suffering defeats in Montreal and Cincinnati. He said that he will need to improve his performance if he is to be in with a chance of claiming a third US Open title.

“My approach to the tournament obviously is still positive,” he said. “I have been playing well during the whole season, and I really had a very positive week of practice here. So I am confident I am ready to play much better than what I did today, and I believe that I’m going to do it.”