Boris Becker regards the injury that has prompted Andy Murray’s withdrawal from the French Open as a “blessing in disguise” for the world No 2 ahead of Wimbledon.
Murray announced late on Tuesday night that he is not fit to compete in the clay-court grand slam, which begins at Paris’ Roland Garros on Sunday.
The Scot was forced to retire mid-match at the Rome Masters a week ago by a back problem he has felt on and off for the last 18 months. He is now focusing on preparation for the grass-court season, with the AEGON Championships at Queen’s getting under way on 10 June and Wimbledon starting 14 days later.
Murray pulled out of the French Open in 2007 due to a wrist injury that also prevented him from being involved in Wimbledon that year.
It remains to be seen how long he is out of action this time but Becker is confident the 26-year-old will be fully fit for Wimbledon and sees Murray’s current situation as being a real potential bonus for his prospects at the tournament.
Becker, Germany’s six-times grand slam champion, said: “I have followed him for the last couple of weeks, and he was struggling in Rome and had been struggling in Madrid [at the Masters event there], so this ]the news of his withdrawal] did not come as a surprise.
“We have to admit that clay is not Andy Murray’s strongest surface and, if he goes half-fit into the French Open, he can’t possibly win it and he might damage his chances for Wimbledon.
“In a way, it was a blessing in disguise. I think he will be fully fit for Wimbledon. I think he just wants to make sure that his chances at Wimbledon are not affected one bit.
“Pulling out of a tournament, especially a grand slam, is always bad news but, if you consider the big picture, you see where he is coming from. I don’t think it is the end of the world.”
World No 3 Roger Federer is also expecting Murray to be “ready” for Wimbledon. He said: “The back comes and goes as we know.
“Clearly only he knows what he has, how much pain he feels. But those are normal tennis injuries to have, those wear and tear, niggling injuries.
“The only problem is if you play too long with something that hurts, it’s just not so much fun any more.”
Federer added: “What you don’t want to happen is to get injured in this phase right now – right before the French, leading into Wimbledon. But he is one of the fittest guys out there and I am sure he is going to be ready.”
The Swiss, winner of 17 majors, defeated Murray in last year’s Wimbledon final.
The tables were turned when Murray triumphed in a rematch at the same venue to claim a gold medal at the London Olympics the following month.
Murray then secured his maiden grand slam by seeing off world No 1 Novak Djokovic in the US Open final, before being beaten by the same opponent in the Australian Open final in January.
The Scot is not the only late withdrawal ahead of the French Open. Juan Martin del Potro has has also been forced to pull out because of a virus. The 24-year-old Argentine, a former US Open champion, said: “I am sad to miss an important tournament. They are the tournaments I always dream of winning. I can get through this and rest and recover and prepare for the rest of the season at 100 per cent.”
Del Potro made the quarter-finals of the French Open last year before losing to Federer. His clay-court season has not been one to remember, having failed to make an impact in Monaco and Rome, suffering early exits to Jarkko Nieminen and Benoit Paire respectively.