Murray, Nishikori pull out of Australian Open

Former world No. 1 Andy Murray and Japan's Kei Nishikori pulled out of the Australian Open yesterday as a host of top names battle to be fit for the year's first Grand Slam.

Murray, 30, had failed to recover from a hip injury sustained last year and has not played since losing in the Wimbledon quarter-finals last July, while Nishikori was sidelined since August due to a torn tendon in his right wrist.

"Sadly, I won't be playing in Melbourne this year, as I am not yet ready to compete," three-time Grand Slam champion Murray said in a statement.

The loss of the Scot, who may now opt for hip surgery, came with injury clouds hanging over a who's who of stars before the Open begins on Jan 15.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal and six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic remain huge doubts having yet to play a competitive match this year.

Nadal pulled out of Brisbane at the weekend with a knee injury but said he plans to play at Melbourne Park, while former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic has not played since a right elbow issue forced him to quit Wimbledon in the quarter-finals.

He cancelled appearances in Abu Dhabi and Doha but intends to test the injury next week at two warm-up events in Melbourne before deciding whether to try for a record seventh Australian Open title.

Tournament director Craig Tiley, however, was confident that Nadal and Djokovic will be ready. - REUTERS