Just 24 days to Wimbledon and Andy Murray’s in agony

HE IS facing one of the toughest seasons of his career, hoping to compete in Queen’s, Wimbledon and the Olympics in the space of a few weeks. But injury fears returned to haunt Andy Murray yesterday when he had to receive on-court treatment as back problems threatened to stop him playing at the French Open.

In the end he powered through into the third round where he will face Santiago Giraldo tomorrow.

However, the British number one admitted he had almost not turned up for the second round match against Jarko Nieminen after waking with a back spasm that meant he could not put much weight on his left leg.

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He also confessed that he had been moments away from quitting during the match.

The addition of the Olympics to his normal Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) commitments means he will be playing on Wimbledon’s courts twice within a month, while expectations will be high for him to retain his title at the Queen’s Club tournament.

Murray’s problems materialised in the fourth game yesterday as he struggled to move and serve. But he opted to carry on and eventually engineered a phenomenal turnaround to win 1-6 6-4 6-1 6-2.

The world number four’s career has been dogged by injury, in particular back problems – he was forced to pull out of Masters Series event in Madrid earlier this month.

In the run-up to the French Open, he blamed his recent indifferent clay-court form on a niggling back problem.

Speaking after yesterday’s match, Murray said that he had been advised to give up halfway through his game.

“Maybe sometimes muscles are doing too much work because you’re a little bit weak in that area,” he said. “But my physio is one of the best, no doubt about that.

“His advice before the match was that by playing, you’re not going to do any permanent damage, so go out and give it a go, see how it feels.

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“Then, obviously, it didn’t feel good. So they were telling me to stop, and then I just kept going, and then it started to feel a bit better.

“It’s one of those things, you can wake up sometimes with a cricked neck or sleeping in the wrong position or whatever. Because I was absolutely perfect yesterday. I had no problems at all.”

Physiotherapist and sports injury expert Ellis Taylor said that Murray would have known how far he could push himself.

He said: “Someone like Murray is going to be very aware of his body. He’s going to have good people around him, so he will have been really well educated in understanding what is just a niggle and what is something more serious.”

He said that it could take four to six weeks for full recovery from injury, but added that Murray would need to identify the muscle imbalance that was causing his ongoing back problem.