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Andy Murray Withdraws From French Open With Back Injury

Andy Murray Withdraws From French Open Tennis With Back Injury
Andy Murray of Great Britain plays a forehand against Marcel Granollers of Spain in their second round match during day four of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2013 at the Foro Italico Tennis Centre in Rome on May 15, 2013. Photographer: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

U.S. Open champion Andy Murray withdrew from next week’s French Open because of a back injury, the first tennis major he’ll miss since 2007. Juan Martin Del Potro also pulled out.

“It’s a really tough decision and I love playing in Paris but, after seeking medical advice, I am not fit to compete,” second-ranked Murray said in a statement e-mailed by his management company last night. “Now my complete focus is on getting back on the court as soon as possible.”

Murray’s press agent Matt Gentry said in an e-mail that the Scotland-born player pulled out because of a lower-back injury that also forced him to retire from his second-round match against Marcel Granollers of Spain at the Italian Open last week. Murray, 26, said after the match that he’d been struggling with a lower-back issue since 2011 and that playing on clay made it worse because the slow surface requires more back rotation.

The French Open, the only clay-court major, starts May 26 at Roland Garros in Paris.

Murray last missed a Grand Slam tournament when a wrist tendon injury forced him to pull out of the 2007 French Open and Wimbledon. His best result in Paris was a semifinal spot in 2011.

Murray isn’t the only top 10 player missing in Paris. Juan Martin Del Potro, the world No. 7 from Argentina, pulled out with a continuing viral condition, the country’s La Nacion newspaper reported the former U.S. Open champion as saying. “It’s a hard blow, these are the tournaments you dream of winning,” said Del Potro, who reached the Paris semifinal in 2009.

Baker, Fish Out

Americans Brian Baker and Mardy Fish also won’t be competing, French Open organizers said earlier today. Fish, a former top 10 player who’s dropped to No. 41, struggled with heart problems last season. Baker, ranked 73rd, hasn’t recovered enough from a knee operation.

Murray had his most successful season in 2012, making the Wimbledon final before winning the singles gold medal at the London Olympics. He then ended a 76-year wait for a male British Grand Slam singles champion when he won the U.S. Open.

Murray, a two-time tournament winner this season, was called a “drama queen” by Britain’s most recent Wimbledon singles champion, 1977 women’s winner Virginia Wade, after his second-round win in Paris last year. Murray limped around the court against Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen, holding his back, and served at half speed.

Murray later said he’d had back spasms during the night and was close to quitting the match. He also disclosed he’d had eight painkilling injections in his back before the tournament.

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