Andy Murray's decision to withdraw from the 2013 French Open was a smart one considering that his health, specifically his aching back, should be the single most important thing on his mind right now.
The 2012 U.S. Open champion announced Tuesday that he would skip the season's second major while dealing with a chronic back injury, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com):
It's a really tough decision and I love playing in Paris, but after seeking medical advice I am not fit to compete. Apologies to the organizers and thanks to everyone for the messages of support. Now my complete focus is on getting back on the court as soon as possible.
While Murray's absence is certainly disappointing news for tennis fans, it will have very little impact on the May/June Slam in Roland Garros.
After all, Rafael Nadal has owned this event for the past eight years, and if there's a player at the top capable of upending him in 2013, many would consider it would be world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who has gotten the better of Nadal three out of the past six times they've met on clay.
Meanwhile, the French Open has been Murray's weakest Grand Slam by the numbers.
The 26-year-old is just 18-6 for his singles career on the red clay in Paris (he's won at least 29 singles matches at every other Slam), reaching the semifinals only once in 2011, where he was wiped out in straight sets by Nadal. Last year, Murray was bounced by David Ferrer in four sets in the quarterfinals, and in 2010 he fell in the fourth round, losing in straight sets to Tomas Berdych.
Also keep in mind that Murray is a combined 0-6 all time against both Nadal and Djokovic on clay. Murray has never played Roger Federer on clay.
But it's certainly no secret that Murray's game is much better suited for the faster-playing grass and hard courts. Few players in today's game are better at turning defense into offense on the hard court than Murray. His past success at the Australian Open and U.S. Open certainly speaks to that.
Plus, Murray is just 3-3 on clay this season following his early exit at the Rome Masters last week.
Therefore, if there were ever a major tournament that Murray could afford to miss in the prime of his career, it's the French Open.
Unlike the other three Slams, one player has had a stranglehold on the French Open over the past decade. Nadal's 52-1 career singles record in Roland Garros is almost unthinkable, and to suggest that Murray would have been able to bring Rafa his second career loss while dealing with a bad back would be outright foolish.
The bottom line is that while Murray's decision to withdraw from the French Open is notable considering he ranks No. 2 in the world, it will have little to no impact on the tournament seeing as he has struggled in Paris more than anywhere else over the years.
The draw will obviously be affected by Murray's absence, but the end result will be without an asterisk.
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