Andy Murray will miss the French Open to give himself the best possible chance of being match-ready for Queen's Club and Wimbledon.

The decision was reached on Saturday – Murray's 34th birthday – as the three-time grand slam winner attempts to banish the lingering effects of a recent groin injury.

Murray will work on his fitness and his game in London over the coming weeks, preparing for an emotional return to action in front of a British crowd.

The grass-court season was cancelled in the UK last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Troubled by fitness issues, Murray has not played singles at Wimbledon since 2017, although in 2019 he entered men's doubles and mixed doubles, partnering Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Serena Williams in those events.

Murray travelled to Rome last week, initially with the sole purpose of practising against leading tour players at the Internazionali d'Italia, and he had a session with long-time rival and current world number one Novak Djokovic, playing a set.

The Scot and fellow Briton Liam Broady were then accepted into the doubles, winning a round before bowing out.

It was expected that Murray would play singles either in Geneva or Lyon in the coming week; however, word emerged that he had abandoned that plan as he reportedly turned down a wildcard to the Swiss tournament.

Now it can be confirmed that Murray will not head to Paris for the French Open either, choosing to focus his energy on the grass-court season.

Although Murray achieved success on clay at the height of his career, winning Masters 1000 titles in Madrid and Rome and reaching the 2016 French Open final, he has greater pedigree on grass, as his five Queen's Club titles and two Wimbledon triumphs have demonstrated.

Skipping the remainder of the clay-court season means Murray can focus on getting himself in the best possible shape for those events in London.

Murray underwent hip resurfacing surgery in January 2019 in a bid to give himself more years on tour. He lost in the second round of the US Open last year before being thrashed by Stan Wawrinka in round one of the French Open.

He was disappointed to miss the Australian Open at the beginning of this year after testing positive for COVID-19.

Simona Halep revealed her Rome withdrawal this week was caused by a torn calf muscle, a blow that casts doubt on her prospects of playing the French Open.

Former world number one Halep had to be helped off court by coach Darren Cahill after she was injured while leading Angelique Kerber 6-1 3-3 in the second round of the Internazionali d'Italia on Wednesday.

The two-time grand slam champion on Friday announced the extent of her injury. Her misfortune comes with just over two weeks remaining until the clay-court grand slam at Roland Garros gets under way on May 30.

Wimbledon is the next major on the calendar after the Paris slam, with the All England Club tournament scheduled to start on June 28 in London.

"After an MRI here in Rome I can confirm that I have small tear high up in the left calf," Romanian Halep posted on her social media accounts.

"I will fly home today and begin recovery in the pool and gym on Monday.

"I'm staying positive and will do everything i can to speed up my return."

Halep, now 29 years old, won her first major title in Paris three years ago and went on to be crowned Wimbledon champion in 2019.

Andy Murray heads to Rome on Saturday with the drive to show there could be one last special summer in his career, and he has an early test against Novak Djokovic booked in.

Former world number one and 11-time grand slam finalist Murray has not played since the Rotterdam Open in early March, having been forced to pull out of the Miami Masters due to a groin injury.

Staying fit has been a problem for Murray since he required a hip resurfacing procedure in January 2019, to deal with a persistent problem that threatened his career.

He particularly wants to play Wimbledon and the Olympics this year, having won both events twice, and hopes to do so in good health.

The 33-year-old is waiting to learn whether he must go through qualifying for the French Open or if a wildcard awaits. He is not entered into the upcoming Internazionali d'Italia but will be in Rome all the same, working to get himself match-ready for the tests that lie ahead.

Murray said: "I want to get out there to be around the top players and top tournaments. On Sunday I've got a court booked with [Diego] Schwartzman and then Novak [Djokovic] in the afternoon.

"I want to play against the highest-level players possible because I think that will help me improve my game quicker."

Quoted in the British media on Saturday, Murray said: "I'm really looking forward to going away [on Saturday] and being among those guys and having a good few months this summer, with Wimbledon and the Olympics. I feel good right now."

Murray was ruled out of the Australian Open, which took place in February, after contracting COVID-19, and the groin injury in Miami was another major disappointment.

While he will be limited to the practice courts in Rome, Murray is aiming to fit in at least one tournament before the French Open, with Geneva and Lyon both staging events in the week ahead of Roland Garros qualifying.

"It's difficult for me to look too far into the future," said Murray, now down to 123rd in the ATP rankings. "I need to try and find a way of staying on the match court for longer. It has been extremely frustrating.

"When I had the operation on the hip I knew it was going to be unbelievably challenging. It just feels there are a couple of things that have happened this year which have been very unfortunate, that have been hard to take."

Roger Federer has confirmed he will grace the clay courts at the French Open and Geneva Open.

The 20-time grand slam champion made his comeback at the Qatar Open last month after a long absence following knee surgery.

Federer was beaten by Nikoloz Basilashvili at the quarter-final stage in Doha before opting against playing in Dubai and Miami.

The 39-year-old Swiss on Sunday announced he will feature on home soil in a Geneva Open event that gets under way on May 16.

World number seven Federer will also be in the draw for the second grand slam of the year at Roland Garros, where he reached the semi-final two years ago in his first appearance at the Paris major since 2015.

He tweeted: "Hi everyone! Happy to let you know that I will play Geneva and Paris.

"Until then, I will use the time to train. Can't wait to play in Switzerland again."

Rafael Nadal will be a strong favourite to surpass Federer's tally of grand slam titles in Paris, where he has won the French Open a record 13 times.

The French Open will take place a week later than initially scheduled this year, a move aimed at increasing the possibility of spectators attending the event in Paris.

Action at Roland Garros was due to begin with qualifying on May 17, reverting back to a more traditional time in the tennis calendar after taking place last year in September and October.

That move was made due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, taking place after the US Open while Wimbledon was cancelled.

With France currently in a third nationwide lockdown as part of measures to slow the rise in COVID-19 cases, the ATP and WTA Tours released a joint statement on Thursday confirming the main draw at Roland Garros will now begin on May 30 instead.

"Tennis has required an agile approach to the calendar over the past 12 months in order to manage the challenges of the pandemic, and this continues to be the case," the statement read.

"The decision to delay the start of Roland Garros by one week has been made in the context of recently heightened COVID-19 restrictions in France, with the additional time improving the likelihood of enhanced conditions and ability to welcome fans at the event.

"Both the ATP and WTA are working in consultation with all parties impacted by the postponement to optimise the calendar for players, tournaments and fans, in the lead-up to and following Roland Garros.

"Further updates will be communicated in due course."

Rafael Nadal is the defending men's champion, the Spaniard having secured the clay-court title for a 13th time in 2020. However, there was a new winner in the women's tournament, Iga Swiatek of Poland defeating Sofia Kenin in the final.

A statement released from the Grand Slam Board backed the move to postpone the French Open, while also announcing the grass-court season will be reduced by one week as a consequence.

"All four grand slam tournaments are united in their view on the importance of a meaningful build-up to every grand slam, to provide players of all competitive levels with appropriate opportunities to practice, prepare and compete on the relevant surface," a statement released via Wimbledon's official website read.

"It was for this reason that the grand slams, together with the Tours, were supportive of changes to the calendar to create an enhanced grass-court season of three weeks between Roland Garros and the Championships from 2015 onwards. It is widely agreed that this change has been very successfully received.

"However, given the considerable challenges ahead of the FFT in staging Roland Garros, and to avoid further impact on the rest of the calendar, the grass-court season will be reduced by one week in 2021."

Wimbledon will remain as planned, the main draw beginning on June 28 with qualifying taking place the week beforehand.

Next month's French Open could be postponed amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to France's minister of sports.

France entered its third national lockdown on Saturday in a bid to halt another surge of COVID-19 cases, which had threatened to overwhelm hospitals across the country. 

Professional sporting events are largely exempt from the restrictions, but minister of sports Roxana Maracineanu has suggested the French Open could be put back from its scheduled May 23 start date.

"We are in discussions with them [the French Tennis Federation] to see if we should change the date to coincide with a possible resumption of all sports and major events," she told radio station France Info.

"Today, although high-level sport has been preserved, we try to limit the risks of clusters, of spreading the virus within professional sports."

Rafael Nadal won last year's French Open, which was postponed by four months, to pull level with Roger Federer's record of 20 grand slam titles.

At a time when the world is drastically different from the norm, there is something rather comforting about the familiarity of Serena Williams remaining a global phenomenon.

While the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on how we go about our normal lives, some things do not change and Williams' enduring quality is proof of that.

The American great has 23 grand slam singles titles, the most in the Open Era and one shy of Margaret Court's overall record.

It began, professionally, on this day a remarkable 23 years ago when Williams defeated Elena Likhovtseva at the Ameritech Cup Chicago for her first main-draw win on the WTA Tour.

At that same tournament, Williams went on to defeat stellar names Mary Pierce and Monica Seles before falling to the brilliant Lindsay Davenport in the semi-finals.

A stunning period of dominance has followed in two decades since and below we take a look at some of the best numbers behind a genuine legend.

73 - Williams has won 73 WTA singles titles so far. Her first was in Paris in 1999, with her most recent coming in Auckland in January 2020.

33 - The 37-year-old has reached an incredible 33 grand slam singles finals, losing just 10 of those.

5 - Williams has finished the year ranked as world number one five times, in 2002, 2009, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

39 - Including 14 in doubles and two in mixed doubles, Williams has won 39 major titles - the joint-third highest total since the Open Era began.

1 - Williams is the only player, male or female, to have completed a Golden Slam in both singles and doubles competitions. As well as triumphing at every slam and the Olympics as a singles competitor, Serena has achieved the same feat alongside sister Venus in doubles.

7 - Williams has seven titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, with six more at the US Open, and three at Roland Garros.

319 - Having spent 319 weeks as world number one, Williams is third behind Martina Navratilova (332) and Steffi Graf (377).

2 - She has held all four grand slam trophies on two occasions - in 2002-03 and 2014-15.

98 - In total, Williams has appeared in 98 singles finals on the WTA circuit.

186 - Williams spent 186 weeks as world number one between February 2013 and September 2016, equal with Graf's record from August 1987 to March 1991.

The swift response to concerns of match-fixing at the French Open and the ongoing investigation represent signs of progress in protecting the integrity of tennis, according to the CEO of the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS).

Reports of irregular bets around a women's doubles match at Roland Garros surfaced this month. An investigation is ongoing, the ICSS says, led by the Paris prosecutor's office.

While such a crime at a grand slam is "quite rare and difficult to do", ICSS chief executive Massimiliano Montanari recognises tennis is "one of the most vulnerable sports from a match-fixing perspective".

The ICSS has, however, been encouraged by the reaction to the Paris allegations.

"We finally see the putting into practice of a system and mechanism to tackle corruption in sport, in this case tennis," Montanari told Stats Perform News.

"We are seeing a very active Tennis Integrity Unit, recently reformed and in phase of establishment as an independent legal entity to investigate and sanction but also educate on integrity matters.

"We see a prompt action of a public prosecutor which brings a possible case of match-fixing from the sport to the criminal dimension."

But Montanari recognises there is still work to do, adding: "We need to enhance capacities both within sport organisations and law enforcement to address such forms of crimes and eliminate forever the perception that match-fixing is a victimless crime.

"Because if sport becomes a fiction, we will lose its unique societal and educational capacity with tragic consequences on the values of our youth and of the future generations."

Rafael Nadal has been awarded Spain's highest sporting honour after his 13th French Open triumph and 20th grand slam title.

The 34-year-old scooped another Roland Garros crown with a straight-sets demolition of world number one Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

It moved Nadal level with Roger Federer at the top of the list of the most prolific men's singles champions in the grand slams.

Now the Spanish government has declared Nadal will receive the Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Sporting Merit.

The honour is reserved for the country's highest achievers in sport, with golf great Seve Ballesteros among the previous recipients, along with Real Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano and 2010 World Cup winners Xavi, Iker Casillas and Andres Iniesta.

Nadal is not the first tennis player to land the Grand Cross, however, with Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Conchita Martinez rewarded in 2001 for their careers and Manuel Santana honoured a year earlier.

The announcement from the government described Nadal as "one of the best athletes in history and an example to follow" on and off the courts.

The Higher Sports Council stated on Twitter: "If anyone deserves the Royal Cross of the Order of Sporting Merit, it's you @RafaelNadal. You have made history and a great pride for all the country."

Rafael Nadal has been labelled as "the pride of our country" by Spain boss Luis Enrique following his latest French Open triumph.

Nadal made it 13 Roland Garros titles with a straight-sets victory over Novak Djokovic on Sunday, taking him level with Roger Federer on 20 grand slams.

It was his 100th match win at the event in Paris at a major he has dominated, losing only twice.

Nadal's supremacy in his 6-0 6-2 7-5 win against the world number one on Philippe Chatrier was underlined by the fact he made just 14 unforced errors to his opponent's 52.

And Luis Enrique, whose side face Ukraine in the Nations League on Tuesday, heaped praise on his 34-year-old compatriot.

"I want to congratulate him on behalf of the [Spanish Football] Federation," he said.

"I remember his way of facing failures and his respect for his opponents. 

"He is the pride of our country. He offers us a lesson in life."

Nadal has now moved to 999 career wins across all tournaments, with 201 defeats, and has captured 86 titles.

In the titles reckoning he sits fourth in the Open Era (behind Jimmy Connors' 109, Roger Federer's 103 and Ivan Lendl's 94). A startling 60 of those titles from Nadal have come on clay.

Rafael Nadal took his chance to equal Roger Federer's haul of 20 grand slams by winning the French Open on Sunday.

The Spaniard demolished Novak Djokovic 6-0 6-2 7-5 in the final at Roland Garros for his 13th French Open title and 20th major success, tying the record held by Federer for most won by a man.

Nadal has dominated in Paris and he did so once more despite some questions heading into the tournament.

The 34-year-old capitalised on a dream run – one of the easiest of his career at grand slams.

Nadal brushed aside Egor Gerasimov, Mackenzie McDonald, Stefano Travaglia, Sebastian Korda, Jannik Sinner and Diego Schwartzman before meeting Djokovic.

But you can only beat what is in front of you. We take a look at how the opponents compare to his previous major wins.

Dream run opens up

While Nadal is almost unstoppable at Roland Garros, he was playing just his second tournament back from the coronavirus-enforced break.

There were perhaps meant to be a few trickier early encounters, but Fabio Fognini, Kei Nishikori and John Isner, who almost stunned Nadal at the French Open in 2011, fell early.

It seemed Nadal's biggest test to reach the final would be Dominic Thiem in the semis, but the in-form Schwartzman stunned the Austrian in the last eight.

The average ranking of Nadal's opponents at this year's tournament was 99.4. Only at Roland Garros in 2010 (116.6) has that figure been higher on his way to grand slam success.

But 10 years ago, he faced wildcard Gianni Mina – then ranked 655th in the world – in the first round, skewing that number. The median ranking of opponents he met this year was 75, which is the highest number of any of his major successes, eclipsing the 2017 US Open (59).

It meant Nadal faced just two top-50 players in Paris in Djokovic and Schwartzman, the same as at Flushing Meadows three years ago. The Spaniard's highest-ranked opponent on his way to that US Open title was world number 28 Juan Martin del Potro in the semi-finals before he crushed Kevin Anderson in the decider.

Nadal can only beat what he is presented, but none of Federer and Djokovic's grand slams have been won after defeating only two top-50 players.

Capitalising on the opportunity

Somehow, despite a French Open win-loss record that he improved to 100-2 in 2020, there were still questions over Nadal heading into a tournament he has owned. Had he had enough match practice? How would the colder weather impact him?

With the draw softened, Nadal claimed the trophy without dropping a set for the fourth time in his career, following on from 2008, 2010 and 2017. They are the four occasions he has won a major without losing a set.

In fact, he lost just 53 games. Only twice has he lost fewer – at the 2017 French Open (35) and 2008 French Open (41) – on his way to a grand slam title.

It may have been an easier passage, but Nadal again showed why he is the 'King of Clay'.

Rafael Nadal is unsure whether he will play again this year as he basks in the "beautiful" feeling of sharing the record for men's grand slam singles titles with Roger Federer.

Nadal produced another masterclass at Roland Garros on Sunday, beating old foe Novak Djokovic 6-0 6-2 7-5 to win his favourite tournament for an astonishing 13th time.

The Spanish great also moved level with Federer's tally of 20 major triumphs, outclassing world number one Djokovic in Paris.

Nadal skipped the US Open, as he was not comfortable travelling to New York amid the coronavirus pandemic, before making his return to the ATP Tour in Rome in September following an absence of seven months.

The 34-year-old will soon turn his attention to deciding when he will next be in action, following another sublime performance on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Novak Djokovic insists he had no fitness complaints during the French Open final and simply lost to a "perfect" performance from Rafael Nadal.

World number one Djokovic lost a completed match for the first time this year as he remarkably went down 6-0 6-2 7-5.

Nadal dominated Sunday's match to claim his 13th Roland Garros title and 20th grand slam championship in total, equalling Roger Federer's record.

Djokovic had been battling neck and shoulder issues in the quarter-finals earlier in the week, wearing tape, repeatedly stretching out his left arm and also receiving treatment as he beat Pablo Carreno Busta.

The Serbian had no desire to look for excuses against Nadal, though, and instead paid tribute to his opponent.

"No, no, I was fine. Everything was okay," Djokovic told a news conference. "I was ready for this match.

"It's just that I was outplayed. I was beaten by a guy who was just perfect today - especially the first two sets. That's all there is to it.

"I will absolutely not find any other justification for this loss. He was just better.

"Straight-sets victory, yeah. It's a grand slam final, but playing Rafa on clay, you play Rafa, who is playing the way he's playing, it's tough to get a set off him.

"I thought third set was a chance, but I just didn't use it."

Despite Nadal's incredible record at the French Open, where he has not lost in more than five years, Djokovic admits he was surprised by his standard.

"I felt well throughout the entire tournament. I thought I was in a great form," he said. "Certainly I could have played better, especially in the first two sets.

"But he did surprise me with the way he was playing, the quality of tennis he was producing, the level. He's phenomenal."

Roger Federer hopes both he and Rafael Nadal can kick on from 20 grand slam titles after the Spaniard joined his rival on the landmark number.

Federer has long led the way for men's singles championships, yet a two-year drought allowed Nadal to close the gap.

The world number two then won the French Open final on Sunday against Novak Djokovic - a dominant 6-0 6-2 7-5 success - to match Federer's record tally.

It was a 13th triumph at Roland Garros, too, and Federer said he was only too happy to welcome Nadal to the top of the standings.

"I have always had the utmost respect for my friend Rafa as a person and as a champion," Federer wrote in a message posted to his Twitter page.

"As my greatest rival over many years, I believe we have pushed each other to become better players. Therefore, it is a true honour for me to congratulate him on his 20th grand slam victory.

"It is especially amazing that he has now won Roland Garros an incredible 13 times, which is one of the greatest achievements in sport.

"I also congratulate his team, because nobody can do this alone.

"I hope 20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us. Well done, Rafa. You deserve it."

Federer will end 2020 without winning an ATP Tour event as he recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery.

Rafael Nadal brushed away talk of his record-equalling haul of grand slam triumphs as he focused on his Roland Garros "love story" after another French Open win.

Nadal thrashed world number one Novak Djokovic 6-0 6-2 7-5 to match Roger Federer's total of 20 men's singles titles at the tennis majors.

It was the Spaniard's 13th success on the red clay of Paris, raising his own benchmark further, and his long relationship with the crowd in France was at the forefront of the champion's mind.

"To win here means everything to me," Nadal said. "It's not the moment - honestly not for me - to think about the 20th, equalling Roger or this great number.

"For me, today is just a Roland Garros victory. Roland Garros means everything to me.

"I spent the most important moments of my tennis career here. I just want to say thank you very, very much to everybody here.

"For me, just to play here is a true inspiration. The love story I have with this city and this court is unforgettable."

So dominant was Nadal's latest win on Court Philippe-Chatrier that he apologised to rival Djokovic, who had not lost a completed match up to this point in 2020.

"Congrats to Novak for another great tournament," Nadal said. "Sorry for today. In Australia, he killed me a couple of times ago. Today was for me.

"That's part of the game. We've played plenty of times together - one day one wins, another day the other. So all the best for the future, Novak."

Djokovic acknowledged he had been completely outclassed.

"I want to say a huge congratulations to Rafa and your team and your family, of course," the top seed said in his post-final speech.

"What you are doing on this court is unbelievable - but not just this court. Throughout your entire career, you've been a great champion.

"Today you showed why you're king of the clay. I experienced it with my own skin.

"It was a very tough match for me today - obviously I am not so pleased with the way I played - but I was definitely outplayed by a better player today on the court."

Page 1 of 11
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.