16th May, 2013
Back pain forced Andy Murray to retire midway through his second-round match at the Italian Open yesterday. He may have to sit out the French Open, too.
Rafael Nadal began his bid for a seventh Rome title by cruising past local hope Fognini of Italy 6-1, 6-3 in just 61 minutes, and two-time defending champion Maria Sharapova eased past Spanish qualifier Garbine Muguruza 6-2, 6-2.
Meanwhile, rising Polish player Jerzy Janowicz upset eighth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 7-6 (5) then celebrated by ripping his shirt apart, showing off his muscular physique.
Murray, who was celebrating his 26th birthday, walked off the court after winning the second set against Spanish opponent Marcel Granollers.
‘’I have an issue with my lower back, it’s been an issue for a while,’’ Murray said.
Murray took a long injury break early in the second set, getting his left thigh and lower back massaged.
Granollers won the first set 6-3 and Murray won the second 7-6 (5).
This tournament is a key clay-court warm-up for Roland Garros, the year’s second Grand Slam, which starts on May 26.
‘’I would be very surprised if I was playing in Paris,’’ Murray said. ‘’I need to make a plan as to what I do. I’ll chat with the guys tonight and make a plan for the next few days then make a decision on Paris after the next five days.
Murray called for the trainer while trailing 2-1 in the second set. He then lost the next two games to trail 4-1 before battling back to force a tiebreaker.
‘’I want to make sure it goes away,’’ Murray added. ‘’It’s been a problem since the end of 2011 but it got bad during last year’s clay season.’’
Nadal will next face Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis, who reached the semifinals in 2010.
Gulbis routed Viktor Troicki of Serbia 6-1, 6-1. Early in the second set during an argument over a line call with the chair umpire, Troicki dragged a cameraman out onto the court to shoot the ball mark.
Sharapova now meets 16th-seeded Sloane Stephens of the United States, who rallied past Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Stephens reached the Australian Open semifinals in January with a win over Serena Williams.