This wasn't really the birthday present Andy Murray was hoping for.
On the day that he was celebrating his 26th cake day, the World No. 2 was forced to drop out of his second-round Italian Open match with Marcel Granollers, and now it appears likely he won't play in the upcoming French Open.
The news comes via Sky Sports' Twitter account:
Sky Sports 📺 @SkySports
Andy Murray may pull out of the French Open due to a lower back injury: "I would be very surprised if I was playing in Paris," he said.2013-5-15 15:58:33
...Happy Birthday, dear Andy.
Nevertheless, if there was one major to skip, the one at Roland Garros is unquestionably the one for Murray to do it at.
First and foremost, Rafael Nadal will be there, and with each pressing match, the Spaniard has looked his pre-injury old self.
The same "old self" who is the King of Clay; the guy who has won seven of eight French Opens, including three in a row; the guy who is an otherworldy 52-1 at Roland Garros; the guy who has won four clay titles already this season while "trying to get back into playing shape."
And if someone actually says enough prayers to the heavens and were to pull off the unlikely miracle of beating Nadal in Paris, the odds of it being Murray are low.
That's not meant to be a criticism. The Brit has made it to the finals at the last three majors and is undoubtedly deserving of his No. 2 world rank.
But on clay, he goes from burgeoning superstar to just a solid tennis player.
Just this season, Murray was destroyed by Stanislas Wawrinka at Monte Carlo and fell in straight sets to Tomas Berdych after struggling with Florian Mayer and Gilles Simon at Madrid.
ESPN UK @ESPNUK
Andy Murray was booed by sections of the crowd after his loss to Stan Wawrinka: http://t.co/9TPL2002Vt2013-4-18 12:52:13
In his career, he has made 40 ATP finals, with a whopping zero of them coming on clay, and his worst major winning percentage is at the French Open. During what you might call his breakout year in 2012, the only major in which he failed to make the semis was at Roland Garros.
Simply put, his game is just far more suited for fast courts.
Murray will lose some points if he opts out of the French Open, but earning a high ranking shouldn't be at the top of his list of priorities. Overcoming his current injury, clearing his mental state after a long past year and recharging his batteries before Wimbledon—where he most recently earned himself a gold medal—should be.
While the popular star would assuredly be missed by the tennis world in Paris, everyone needs breaks. And there is no better time for Murray to take one than right now.
He is, after all, a year older now.
I managed to restrain myself from using the phrase, "that (expletive) clay." Reward me with a follow! Follow @t_keen