Andy Murray given huge Cincinnati test in old rival Stan Wawrinka to threaten US Open prep

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Andy Murray has been placed in the Cincinnati draw as a last-minute entry following several withdrawals. The two-time former champion received one of the qualifier slots and has been drawn to face old foe Stan Wawrinka in what will be the 22nd meeting between the two three-time Grand Slam champions. It could scupper the Brit’s US Open preparations with the risk of another early loss and fewer matches in the lead-up to the final Major of the year.

Murray narrowly made it into the Cincinnati Masters draw following several withdrawals, after originally being scheduled to play the qualifying event. But the good news didn’t last long for the former world No 1, who was placed to meet Wawrinka in the opening round.

The pair are no strangers, both holding three Grand Slam titles to their name and facing off 21 times before, with Wawrinka serving as one of Murray’s former rivals. While fans will be delighted to see another meeting between the pair, the former world No 3 is likely one of the last players Murray would have wanted to come up against after confessing he needed a deep run ahead of the US Open.

The current world No 48 has his sights set on earning a seeded spot at the US Open, and after his defeat in Washington last week he said: “It’s still possible to do it. I would just need to have a good run in Canada or Cincinnati really. It’s pretty straightforward.” But having lost in the first round in Montreal, he will have to go deep next week to make up some ranking points.

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Murray is yet to win a match during the North American hard-court swing, suffering a surprise first-round loss to Mikael Ymer in Washington last week, before drawing No 10 seed Taylor Fritz in Montreal. The recent Wimbledon quarter-finalist needed just 87 minutes to see off the Brit 6-1 6-3.

He will now hope to get a much-needed win ahead of the US Open over a fellow former champion in Flushing Meadows. Wawrinka has only just returned to the tour after undergoing double foot surgery last year, but the Swiss star won their last meeting at the 2020 French Open.

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