Paris – Andy Murray will work to repeat his French Open semifinal from 2011 despite being troubled in recent weeks by back pain.
The Scot who has lost three Grand Slam finals, had faded away slightly as the elite three of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer separate themselves even further from the pack as the major begins on Sunday.
With Murray not usually mentioned as a title contender, the 25-year-old has perhaps more time to concentrate on proving the doubters wrong at this edition at Roland Garros.
Murray will test the back which he says is no longer an issue as he starts in the Paris first round against Japan's Tatsuma Ito, who tuned up at the World Team Cup in Dusseldorf this week.
Murray is defiant after the suggestion aired by Boris Becker that he might wish to skip Roland Garros to let his back properly heal. “No” was his one-word answer to that unsolicited thought.
“Apart from my back everything's been fine,” said the Scot. “Everybody picks up niggles at various times of the season, and sometimes you can get them at points of the year that aren't ideal.
“They can happen when you're just going into a rest period or when you start training again and no one hears about them.
“I won't be the only one that's got niggles, but hopefully the worst of it's gone now. The next few months are very important to everybody this year. There's a lot of big tournaments coming up.
“One of the goals in that period is to stay injury free, because if I am, then I'll hopefully play some good tennis and have some good results.”
Murray had limited clay exposure over the past six weeks, reaching Monte Carlo and Barcelona quarter-finals, skipping Madrid due to his back pain and losing in his second match last week in Rome.
Despite the average showing, Murray is not disappointed.
“I feel like to have a good run here I'll need to play good tennis obviously. But last year's semi-final definitely helped, because I also wasn't 100 per cent healthy during the event last year.
“Providing I don't have any injuries like that and I play some good tennis, there's no reason why I can't have another great tournament.” – Sapa-dpa