Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Growing List of No-Shows Fails to Take the Golden Gleam Away from Games, Says Murray; THE 2016 RIO OLYMPICS: Murray Still Expects a Great Olympics despite Lack of Top Players Tennis at the Rio Olympics Has Been Hit - like Other Sports - by a Number of High-Profile Withdrawals. but Andy Murray Is Still Expecting a Tough Fight to Defend His Title in Brazil

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Growing List of No-Shows Fails to Take the Golden Gleam Away from Games, Says Murray; THE 2016 RIO OLYMPICS: Murray Still Expects a Great Olympics despite Lack of Top Players Tennis at the Rio Olympics Has Been Hit - like Other Sports - by a Number of High-Profile Withdrawals. but Andy Murray Is Still Expecting a Tough Fight to Defend His Title in Brazil

Article excerpt

DEFENDING champion Andy Murray insisted the Olympic tennis tournament remains a strong competition despite Stan Wawrinka joining the growing list of withdrawals.

The world number four pulled out on Tuesday citing a back injury, meaning half of the men's top 10 will miss the event.

Wawrinka's Swiss team-mate Roger Federer has taken the rest of the season off to recover from knee surgery, while Milos Raonic and Tomas Berdych cited concerns over the Zika virus and Dominic Thiem prioritised the ATP Tour.

Top-30 players Nick Kyrgios, Bernard Tomic, Richard Gasquet, John Isner, Sam Querrey and Feliciano Lopez are also absent.

Murray, who beat Novak Djokovic and Federer back-to-back to win gold in London, said: "It's unfortunate with Roger and Stan, they're two guys that are both great players and capable of winning events like this so it's a shame that they aren't here.

"But it's still a pretty strong field, a lot of the top-20 players are here even if unfortunately there's a few of the top 10 missing."

Murray has not played a match since beating Raonic to win his second Wimbledon title last month. He travelled to Great Britain's Davis Cup quarter-final against Serbia as a supporter and has been preparing for the Olympics at a training camp in Majorca.

Murray's training included practice sessions with Rafael Nadal, who is planning to return from more than two months out with a wrist injury.

"We practised a little bit together," said the Scot. "I had a couple of British guys over there with me, Ed Corrie and Dan Smethurst, and I hit with Rafa a couple of times, and it was good.

"It was hot, conditions are quite different here, the courts we were practising on were a bit faster, here it's pretty slow and heavy conditions, a little bit humid and quite windy, so it's good to get here a few days early and get used to it."

Murray, who practised with British team-mate Kyle Edmund at the Olympic Tennis Centre on Tuesday after arriving on Monday night, sought final assurances from his doctor to allay concerns about Zika before travelling.

Wife Kim and baby daughter Sophia will not be in Rio, although Murray insisted that was not because of health concerns and that the event had never been part of their schedule. …

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