Novak Djokovic receives walkover in Madrid Open after Andy Murray pulls out due to illness

Andy Murray's clay season started brightly, but an illness suffered by the Scot has forced him to withdraw from his round of 16 clash against Novak Djokovic in the Madrid Open.

Andy Murray overcame two difficult games on his return to clay, first beating Dominic Thiem and then Denis Shapovalov to reach the last 16 in the Madrid Open.

That set up a blockbuster tie between the 34-year-old and current world No.1 Novak Djokovic.

But before the pair took to the court on Thursday afternoon, Murray's camp revealed that an illness has led to him withdrawing from the match.

A post on the tournament's Twitter feed read: "Unfortunately, Andy Murray is unable to take to the Manolo Santana Stadium due to illness. We wish you a speedy recovery Andy Murray!"

Had Murray faced Djokovic, it would've been the first time in five years since the great rivals last faced each other.

However, Murray can now use the extended break to recover from his illness and prepare for the Italian Open next week, with the former world No.1 needing to qualify for the tournament.

He could however choose to miss the Italian Open and instead start his preparations for the French Open, which starts on May 22.

Murray initially suggested he'd entirely skip the clay season to focus on his preferred grass court tournaments, but after impressing during his wildcard appearance in Madrid, he could opt to participate in France.

While Murray leaves Madrid in disappointment, he can take confidence from helping to break a British tennis record, with the trio of Murray, Dan Evans and Cameron Norrie the first three British players to reach the third round of a Masters event on clay.

Having received a walkover, Djokovic now progresses to the quarter-finals of the Madrid Masters, a tournament the Serb has won three times throughout his career.

Djokovic beat Gael Monfils to reach the round of 16 and can now relax this Thursday as he finds out his quarter-final opponent.

READ MORE: Rafael Nadal returns with a win as Dan Evans and Cameron Norrie make history in Madrid

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