ANDY Murray last night withdrew from next week’s Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to give himself the best chance of competing in the US Open later this month - a move which essentially guarantees that he will surrender his top spot in the world rankings to either Rafa Nadal or Roger Federer this Autumn.

Skipping the seventh Masters 1000 event of the season - a traditional warm-up event for Flushing Meadows and one where the Scot is a two-times winner - was the nuclear option for the 30-year-old as he and his medical advisors tailor his recovery from the ongoing hip problem which flared up so spectacularly at Wimbledon last month. The Scot has spent 40 weeks at No 1 in the rankings, but pulled out of the Masters 100 event in Montreal last week and hasn’t played competitively since losing to Sam Querrey in the Wimbledon quarter finals on July 12.

With Novak Djokovic also sidelined until the end of the year with an elbow problem, Nadal and Federer are jealously eyeing a return to top spot in the rankings and both will be on the start line in Ohio. In fact, both could overtake him by the time the US Open begins, with the Mallorcan in line to reclaim top spot simply by reaching the semi-finals at the Rogers Cup in Montreal in the next few days.

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Murray will trade that to be in shape to compete for the title in the Big Apple. “Unfortunately I won’t be playing in Cincinnati as I continue my recovery,” he said yesterday. “I always enjoy playing there and I look forward to returning next year. I’m continuing to work hard on the court with the aim of being in New York.”

While a lack of match time coming into the final Grand Slam of the season is hardly ideal, it is heartening the Scot appears on track to play in New York, following an injury many feared would require surgery and end his season there and then. His runs to the latter stages at Roland Garros and Wimbledon came after little match practice on the surface.