Murray's announcement yesterday that he is not fit to play in the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London came as little surprise, as it is only two weeks since he had keyhole back surgery to resolve a long-term back injury.
Loading article content
The Scot saw a specialist on Monday and though the injury, which kept him out of the French Open and ended his season prematurely, is healing well, he is determined to take his recovery slowly.
The points he will lose from having reached the final in Shanghai last year and the semi-finals in London mean that his No.3 ranking will be under serious threat from Ferrer and perhaps Del Potro.
Should both men overtake him, Murray would find himself starting 2014 as the world No.5, making it possible that he could have to beat three of the top four to reach a fourth Australian Open final.
It is a situation Murray has been through before, though, and not one that will cause him to lose any sleep, even if he would rather be seeded in the top four in Melbourne.
Murray, who has not played since he helped Great Britain qualify for the Davis Cup World Group the week after the US Open, is likely to begin training at his traditional winter base in Miami at some stage in November.
An exhibition event in Barbados is his first scheduled stop at the end of the month and he will then build towards another exhibition in Abu Dhabi, at the end of December, before returning to the Tour the following week.
Murray's absence from the finals in London is a blow to organisers, for whom the Wimbledon champion has never been a bigger draw, in terms of tickets. One positive aspect of his absence is that it means Roger Federer will move up one place in the list, making it almost certain that the Swiss will qualify for the season-ending event for the 12th straight year.
Federer, who could clinch his place if he reached the closing stages in the Shanghai Masters this week, is by the far the biggest draw of all in London, where his legion of Swiss supporters often book the entire week months in advance.
The slender prospect of Scottish representation in the doubles competition - the world's top eight teams qualify - at the O2 remains alive after both Jamie Murray and Colin Fleming advanced to the last 16 in Shanghai.
Murray and his Australian partner John Peers, who are 12th in the world doubles rankings, were 7-5, 6-4 winners over the Czech Lukas Rosol and Australia's Bernard Tomic - they were late replacements for the Spaniards Albert Montanes and Tommy Robredo - after serving eight aces between them. They play the No.7 seeds, Julien Benneteau (France) and Nenad Zimonjic (Serbia), for a place in the quarter-finals.
Fleming and Jonny Marray, the 2012 Wimbledon champion from Yorkshire, will play Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez, the No.2 seeds from Spain, after edging out Santiago Gonzalez, of Mexico, and the American Scott Lipsky, 3-6, 7-5, 10-7 during which they saved eight break points, and won eight fewer points than their opponents.