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Andy Murray withdraws from French Open to prioritise Wimbledon

Britain’s Andy Murray has withdrawn from the French Open to prioritise the grass-court season in the build-up to Wimbledon.

Murray, 36, has only played at Roland Garros once since 2017.

The three-time Grand Slam champion won the clay-court Challenger event in Aix-en-Provence in May but has struggled for consistency on the surface.

The French Open, the second Grand Slam of the year, takes place from 28 May to 11 June.

Murray lost to long-time rival Stan Wawrinka in Bordeaux earlier this week and also had early exits at the ATP Tour events in Rome, Madrid and Monte Carlo.

He did, however, beat America’s world number 17 Tommy Paul when he came back from a set down in Aix-en-Provence to secure his first clay-court title since 2016 and his first singles trophy for four years.

Murray said earlier in May he was not sure about playing at Roland Garros, telling the Guardian: “It’s just what the right thing is to prioritise at this stage in my career.

“I trust my body now but I’m aware that my best chance of having a deep run is more likely to happen at Wimbledon.”

Murray is set to play in the Cinch Championships at Queen’s Club, which takes place from 19-25 June.

The first event of the British grass-court season will be the Surbiton Trophy from 4-11 June.

Murray reached the 2016 French Open final, when he was beaten by Novak Djokovic, and the semi-finals in Paris the following year, with Wawrinka ending his challenge.

The Scot dropped to 503 in the men’s rankings after having career-saving hip resurfacing surgery in 2019 but has worked himself back up to 42nd in the world.

In January’s Australian Open, he spent 10-and-a-half hours on court in victories over Matteo Berrettini and Thanasi Kokkinakis, before being beaten in the third round by Roberto Bautista Agut.

Murray joins 14-time champion Rafael Nadal in withdrawing from Roland Garros, while Italy’s Berrettini and Australia’s Nick Kyrgios have also pulled out.

British women’s number two Jodie Burrage will also miss the French Open, where she was due to take part in qualifying, after failing to recover in time from a niggle.

With Emma Raducanu sidelined long term after operations on both her wrists and an ankle, 106th-placed Burrage was set to be Britain’s highest-ranked woman in Paris.

She is hoping to return for the grass-court event in Surbiton beginning on 4 June and will overtake Raducanu after the French Open irrespective of her results.

Analysis – Playing on grass considered best preparation for Wimbledon

Russell Fuller, BBC tennis correspondent

Murray’s principal goal right now is Wimbledon – and if at all possible trying to get himself seeded.

He is currently ranked 42, and although only the top 32 will be seeded, a few players will inevitably be missing through injury.

By not playing at Roland Garros, Murray passes up the chance for some significant ranking points.

But the trade off is he is now likely to be able to play in the Surbiton grass-court Challenger event which takes place in the second week of the French Open.

Murray has played on clay in Madrid, Aix-en-Provence, Rome and Bordeaux in the past month. Some rest and an early opportunity to lace up his grass-court shoes are now considered the best preparation for Wimbledon. –