Tennis: Boris Becker advises Andy Murray to skip French Open
Murray was clearly troubled by the injury as he lost to Richard Gasquet in Rome last week, revealing afterwards he had been carrying the complaint since December.
With the French Open set to begin on Sunday, the Scot is a fitness doubt and, with a busy summer schedule ahead, six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker has told him to consider skipping Roland Garros.
“I worry where Andy is physically,” Becker explained. “Back pain is a disaster on clay. On any other surface you can handle it because you can finish matches quickly, but on clay you have to be ready to play for two or three hours every day.
“We saw Andy couldn’t handle that in Rome. I’m not a doctor, but if he’s not fit, the question must be: ‘Why play at all?’
“Nobody can win seven matches over the next fortnight without being in decent physical condition, not even Rafael Nadal. So if he has no realistic chance of winning a Grand Slam title, why not get some rest?
“With Wimbledon and the Olympics coming up, that is two big reasons for Andy to think about his long-term health.”
The French Open has already lost a few big-name players, with home favourite Gael Monfils becoming the latest to pull out through injury.
The world No 13, who was knocked out of the Nice Open on Wednesday by American qualifier Brian Baker, has a knee problem and has been advised to rest for three weeks. That scenario would mean the Frenchman should be fit for the start of Wimbledon next month.
Monfils joins the likes of Mardy Fish, Robin Soderling and Andrea Petkovic in withdrawing from the tournament.
Meanwhile, Britain’s Heather Watson is one win away from qualifying for the main draw for the second year in a row after a 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 victory over Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur yesterday.
The 20-year-old from Guernsey, who became the first British woman to achieve the feat for 28 years 12 months ago, will face Italy’s Anna Floris in the final qualifying round today.
Jabeur, last year’s junior champion at Roland Garros, looked certain to take the first set when she fought back from 2-5 down to lead 5-1 in the tie-break. But Watson, who reached the second round last year, responded by winning six points in a row and clinched victory by winning the final three games of the match.
Watson was joined in the final round of qualifying by 18-year-old Laura Robson, who ground out a 7-5, 7-6 (7/5) victory over France’s Laura Thorpe.
Robson, making her first appearance in the senior event at Roland Garros, had to save set points in the opener before edging a very tight second set after Thorpe twice fought back from a break down.
Today the teenager will meet a familiar foe in the form of 20-year-old Czech Karolina Pliskova, who won their battle in the final of the junior event at the Australian Open in 2010.