Tennis: Andy Murray pulls out of French Open

Andy Murray has withdrawn from the French Open due to the back injury that forced him to retire in Italy last week. The world number two retired in his first match in Rome and has chosen not to play in Roland Garros, hoping to regain his fitness for the grass-court season which starts at Queen's on June 10th. The French Open, the second Grand Slam of the year, starts at Roland Garros on Sunday.

"It's been a really tough decision, and I love playing in Paris, but after seeking medical advice I'm not fit to compete," said Murray, the reigning US Open champion. "Apologies to the organisers and thanks to everyone for the messages of support. Now my complete focus is on getting back on the court as soon as possible."

This will be the first Grand Slam tournament Murray has missed since Wimbledon in 2007. Murray had to retire against Marcel Granollers on his 26th birthday in Rome. He withdrew with a lower-back problem after winning a tie-break to claim the second set after having dropped the first one. Immediately after the match Murray said he would be "very surprised" if he would be fit for the French Open. His only previous mid-match retirement coincidentally came on his 20th birthday, when he snapped a tendon in his wrist at the 2007 Hamburg Masters.It was the most serious injury Murray has ever suffered, leading him to miss both the French Open and Wimbledon that year.

Murray struggled with a lower-back problem throughout the clay season last year. One match against Jarkko Nieminen during the French Open prompted former Wimbledon champion Virginia Wade to call him a "drama queen".

"Until Madrid, it had been OK but it's not been perfect for a long period," Murray said at the Italian Open. "You always go into matches with little niggles and such, but it's frustrating when for a long period you're hurting. It's been an issue for a while now and I want to make sure it goes away. It's not enjoyable when you're playing in pain."

Murray reached the Roland Garros quarter-finals last year, losing to David Ferrer. Here are the outright odds for this year's top favourites at Bet365:

Rafael Nadal - 4/6
Novak Djokovic - 6/4
Roger Federer - 12/1
Juan Martin Del Potro - 22/1
David Ferrer - 25/1

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