His voice choking, Andy Murray unexpectedly announced yesterday that he was withdrawing from the US Open because of a hip injury, adding to the lengthy list of top players who will miss the year's last Grand Slam tournament.
Murray was seeded No 2 at Flushing Meadows, where play begins late tonight.
"Did pretty much everything that I could to get myself ready here and took a number of weeks off after Wimbledon. I spoke to a lot of hip specialists. Tried resting, rehabbing, to try and get myself ready here," said Murray, who won the 2012 US Open for the first of his three major championships.
"Was actually practicing OK the last few days," he added, "but it's too sore for me to win the tournament. And ultimately, that's what I was here to try and do."
Murray, who yielded the No 1 ranking to Rafael Nadal this week, has not played a match since July 12 at Wimbledon, where he was the defending champion and was clearly hampered by his hip during a five-set quarter-final loss to Sam Querrey.
Murray's exit from the US Open further depletes an event that already was missing three of last year's four men's semifinalists, including 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka, runner-up Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori.
Three-time major champion Wawrinka recently had surgery on his left knee, 12-time major champion Djokovic has a bad right elbow and 2014 US Open runner-up Nishikori has an injured right wrist.
All three have said they are done for the year.
Add in 2016 Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic, who has a problem with his left wrist, and Murray, and now five of the top 11 men in this week's ATP rankings will be absent.
That leaves No 1 seed Nadal and No 3 Roger Federer - who has been dealing with a bad back - as the two clear favourites for the men's trophy. They were drawn yesterday into the same half of the bracket, meaning they could only meet in the semifinals in New York.