World No. 2 Andy Murray made headlines yesterday, as he withdrew from the second Grand Slam of the season, with a lower-back injury.
He said in a statement, “It’s a really tough decision and I love playing in Paris, but after seeking medical advice I am not fit to compete,” said Murray via ESPN. “Apologies to the organizers and thanks to everyone for the messages of support. Now my complete focus is on getting back on the court as soon as possible.”
What’s more concerning was what Murray said in Rome last week. He cited that this lower-back injury has been a problem since the 2011 season and was an issue last year on the clay.
This withdrawal is also major because it directly affects defending champion Rafael Nadal, as he will be bumped up to the No. 3 seed and will not face Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer until at least the semifinals.
Was this a good move for the remainder of Murray’s 2013 season?
The obvious answer is yes when looking at the 2013 season as a whole. First, Murray can sacrifice his last year’s result (quarterfinals) in Paris and work on defending the more important Wimbledon points and U.S. Open crown.
And after winning the gold medal during the London Olympics at Wimbledon last July, Murray (believe it or not) will be facing even more pressure to break the 77-year drought and finally become the first British male since Fred Perry to win Wimbledon. Plus, now that he’ll come to Wimbledon a Grand Slam champion, he is expected to win.
Secondly, rankings aside, Murray has always played better tennis during the June through August months, excelling on the fast grass and American hard courts. He needs to be healthy during that time because Wimbledon and the U.S. Open are probably his top priority for 2013. With the pullout, it also proved how much Murray values this part of the tennis season.
On the other hand, besides the points he’ll be forfeiting, he is also foregoing his highest Grand Slam seeding since the 2009 U.S. Open as No. 2.
In the last 10 months, Murray has worked hard to assert himself as a Grand Slam contender, not just a Masters Series contender and his ranking shows that effort. With this setback, he could be throwing away his hard work and giving his competitors a slight edge over him in the next month with more match play.
But in the end, Murray isn't considered a favorite to win at Roland Garros, and as such, made the right move to get healthy before the real test in London comes next month.
The French Open draw will be available Friday, with main draw action beginning Sunday.