Knee problem forces Nadal to miss Shanghai
Andy Murray heads today for next week's Masters Cup in Shanghai but there will be no danger of the Scot bumping into Rafael Nadal when he arrives.
The world No 1 has withdrawn from the end-of-season finale because of the knee injury he suffered at last week's Paris Masters.
Nadal admitted that his desire to be fit for Spain's Davis Cup final away to Argentina later this month was also a factor. "The tennis calendar has been extremely hard and forces players to compete week in week out, making it impossible for a top-level player to be 100 per cent for each event," Nadal said in a statement on his website. "Competing at so many events might have harmed, especially at the end of the season, my physical condition, taking away the freshness needed to play at the top level."
Gilles Simon will replace Nadal in the elite eight-man field for the Masters Cup, which brings together the year's most successful players. James Blake is next in line in the list of possible replacements, followed by David Nalbandian, David Ferrer and Stanislas Wawrinka.
There could yet be further changes to the line-up. Roger Federer suffered a back injury in Paris last week, while Juan Martin del Potro, who has had an exhausting second half of the year, also has the Davis Cup final to consider. Nalbandian, his fellow Argentinian, would have qualified automatically for Shanghai if he had beaten Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Paris final on Sunday, but suggested that he might not have travelled to Shanghai because of the need to prepare for the Davis Cup.
Murray, who was sharpening up for Shanghai by playing in a Nintendo Wii tennis tournament organised by his sponsors Highland Spring at Roehampton, paid tribute yesterday to Lewis Hamilton's achievement in winning the Formula One world title.
"To see something like that from a British athlete, especially at his age, is pretty special," Murray said.