Andy Murray’s burning Roland Garros question – ‘Is it a good choice to stay on clay?’

Shahida Jacobs
Andy Murray sitting down
Andy Murray takes a moment

Andy Murray’s first appearance at the Monte Carlo Masters in six years turned into a nightmare and the performance left him with a bigger question: should he play more tournaments on clay or switch his focus to grass?

The former world No 1 has played only a handful of matches on clay since making his comeback from career-saving hip surgery as in 2020 he played only one match – an opening-round defeat at Roland Garros.

In 2021 he skipped the red dirt campaign altogether while last year he won back-to-back matches at the Madrid Open, but he then picked up an injury and didn’t play on the surface again.

On Monday he made his return on the surface, but it was a horror show as he suffered a 6-1, 6-3 drubbing at the hands of Alex de Minaur in the first round in Monte Carlo.

Former world No 1 Justine Henin admits Murray’s performance was difficult to watch.

“We could see yesterday that it was tough for him to move and to find the rhythm,” the seven-time Grand Slam winner told Eurosport. “His game was not really helping to make the difference on the clay. It is tough to say that about Andy because we love him so much, what he has done on the tour is just amazing.

“On clay, it becomes more and more difficult. He misses matches now, but will this time in the next few weeks be enough for him? That is the question, and that will probably also be his question.

“We can understand because we have all been through injuries, but we cannot be in his position and it must be so tough emotionally to give all of this effort and to realise on the court that it becomes really difficult.”

The red dirt season still has another two months to run with the Madrid Open and Italian Open the two remaining ATP Masters 1000 events before the big showdown at Roland Garros in Paris.

The French Open, though, has never been Murray’s priority and Henin might have to switch focus to grass and Wimbledon a lot earlier this year.

The Belgian added: “Of course, we can use these experiences, but for him at this point in his career, we will see the decisions that he is going to take.

“At the end of his career, he will need to make his priorities. His priority for sure is Wimbledon. He wants to play one more Roland-Garros – he wasn’t sure a few days ago and maybe is even less sure now.

“We will see the decisions he makes. Is it a good choice to stay on clay? We will see what he decides soon.”

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