Tennis: Murray plays safe over his slight injury worry

Britain's Andy Murray returns the ball to Italy's Potito Starace during the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Thursday, May 12, 2011. Murray won 6-2, 6-3. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

Britain's Andy Murray returns the ball to Italy's Potito Starace during the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Thursday, May 12, 2011. Murray won 6-2, 6-3. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

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Andy Murray is expected to be fit for the French Open despite pulling out of a scheduled exhibition match in Paris.

The world number four, who was due to play Michael Llodra in the Guinot Mary Cohr Masters at Paris Country Club, sustained a slight problem in training yesterday morning and withdrew as a precaution.

Murray, the fourth seed for the second grand slam of the year, had treatment at his hotel last night and his place in today’s draw is not understood to be in any doubt.

Despite the minor nature of the problem, it is a setback that Murray could clearly have done without ahead of what has so far been his least successful major.

The 24-year-old, who missed both the French Open and Wimbledon in 2007 because of a wrist problem, has been in decent form on the clay this season, reaching the semi-finals at the Masters events in Monte Carlo and Madrid.

After taking Rafael Nadal to a deciding set in the former, Murray came as close as anyone to ending Novak Djokovic’s unbeaten start to the season in the Spanish capital before losing in a deciding tie-break.

A statement from tournament organisers said: “Andy has withdrawn from the Guinot Mary Cohr Masters as a precaution after sustaining a minor injury whilst training in the morning.

“Andy would like to apologise to the fans and sponsors but hopes to play in the Masters Guinot Mary Cohr again next year.”

Murray has also recently had to contend with an elbow problem which he picked up at the Monte Carlo Masters.

And his former coach and current Davis Cup captain, Leon Smith, has predicted a successful tournament in Paris for the Scot.

“In Monte Carlo Andy showed how good he can be on clay,” he said.

“He really pushed Rafa and took a lot of confidence from that. Last year at the French Open Andy played some really good tennis.

Familiar

“It would not surprise me if, each year, Andy gets stronger. he played a lot of clay-court tennis when he was younger and was based in Spain for a couple of years.

“Clay is a surface he is very familiar with and it wouldn’t surprise me if getting to Monte Carlo early really helped him.”

● Heather Watson celebrated her 19th birthday by moving to within one victory of qualifying for the main draw of a grand slam for the first time at the French Open yesterday.

The British number three beat Australia’s Sally Peers 6-3 7-5 to set up a third-round meeting with either Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland or Japan’s Misaki Doi at Roland Garros.

After taking the first set in 42 minutes, Watson twice let leads slip in the second against good friend Peers, also 19, before finally serving out the victory at the second time of asking.

The Guernsey teenager, whose only appearance in the main draw of a grand slam was a first-round defeat as a wild card at Wimbledon last year, has enjoyed a terrific season and is currently at a career-high ranking of 119.

Watson said: “I’m really chuffed and it’s my birthday so now it’s time to celebrate, but not too much because I’ve got to rest up and get ready for my third round match today.”

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