Andy Murray: Federer absence a ‘huge loss’ to French Open, ‘let’s hope he’s back for Wimbledon’

Andy Murray, the world No 2, has said Roger Federer's absence from the French Open is a "huge loss" to the tournament.
Andy Murray takes part in a training session ahead of the start of his French Open campaign. Eric Feferberg / AFP
Andy Murray takes part in a training session ahead of the start of his French Open campaign. Eric Feferberg / AFP

Andy Murray, the world No 2, has said Roger Federer’s absence from the French Open is a “huge loss” after the 17-time grand slam champion withdrew days before the start of the tournament.

Federer, 34, has endured a season beset with injury having undergone knee surgery after the Australian Open in January, only for his comeback to be curtailed by a back problem that resulted in his withdrawal from the Madrid Open. He returned at the Italian Open in Rome but was beaten in the third round by Austrian Dominic Thiem.

Federer’s absence from the French Open ends a record 65 consecutive appearances at grand slam tournaments. He last missed a major event at the 1999 US Open when, as a 19-year-old, he failed to qualify.

Murray, who is one of the favourites to win the Roland Garros title, sympathises with Federer having suffered back injuries of his own in the past when he missed the 2012 French Open.

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“It’ll be the first grand slam tournament of my career without Roger Federer in the draw. Obviously for the fans and the tournament it’s a huge loss when he isn’t playing because fans love him pretty much everywhere,” Murray wrote in his column for La Parisien.

“I unfortunately also had my fair share of back problems, so I understand. For me, clay was the worst surface for my back. The ground isn’t stable beneath you and that makes things tricky, and then you have to generate a lot of the power yourself, because the court is slower.

“On grass courts, the ground does a lot of the work for you. Also the weather can be tough, especially when it’s humid or cold like it’s been here the last couple of years. So I can understand why Roger would have been having issues with his back.”

The year Murray missed the French Open he followed it up by winning the Wimbledon title, ending a 77-year wait for a British men’s champion. Wimbledon became synonymous with the Federer era of dominance, with the Swiss winning four of his seven titles successively between 2003 and 2007, and he will be aiming to recover from his injury in time for a shot at title No 8.

“The year I won Wimbledon was the year I missed the French Open so it worked out well for me in the end,” Murray said. “We will just have to see now how Roger recovers. It’s still a big loss to the tournament here, and I hope he recovers because Roger is great for tennis. I hope to see him playing at Wimbledon.”

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Published: May 22, 2016 04:00 AM

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